Faulconer meets with Trump in Oval Office to discuss trade, border issues

San Diego Union-Tribune |

--San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss the treaty that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and other issues confronting the region.

The meeting was announced in a pool report released by the White House hours before the president traveled to Florida for the official roll out of his 2020 re-election campaign.

"Today, President Donald J. Trump met with Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego, California, in the Oval Office to discuss the importance of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement," stated the announcement. "Mayor Faulconer discussed the importance of the USMCA and his ongoing advocacy for the agreement, including the introduction of a joint resolution supporting USMCA to be considered at the upcoming meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors."

Faulconer said in a statement, "I had a chance to briefly meet with the president to discuss a few big issues facing San Diego," and he listed the pending trade deal, California's homeless crisis, and sewage coming from the Tijuana River Valley.

"I encouraged more federal action to fix it," he wrote.

The Mayor's Office said the visit came as something of a surprise.

"The Mayor was originally scheduled to meet with the White House Intergovernmental Affairs team -- as he often does when he's in D.C.," said spokeswoman Ashley Bailey in a statement. "The President then requested for Mayor Faulconer to have the meeting in the Oval Office. They met briefly for approximately 19 minutes. "

Faulconer, who is termed out of office next year, has been a moderate Republican in a city with a majority of registered Democrats. Trump, whose national approval ratings are in the low- to mid-40s, is unpopular in parts of California and San Diego.

Faulconer is co-chair of the US-Mexico Border Mayors Association and chair of the Trilateral Alliance for Trade in the Americas.

The mayor has supported closer business ties between San Diego and Tijuana, commerce that has been jeopardized by Trump's immigration policy and by threats to shut the border between the United States and Mexico.

Last year, the San Diego area U.S.-Mexico border was closed for more than five hours after hundreds of migrants rushed to cross into the United States. The closure cost regional businesses millions of dollars in economic losses.

The discussion inside the Oval Office was not limited to trade. According to the White House announcement, the two politicians also discussed border issues, the environment and homelessness.

"Mayor Faulconer also raised cross-border concerns with polluted water flowing into the Tijuana River Valley from Mexico and the ongoing impact on local beaches and coastal waters," the announcement stated.

"Finally, President Trump and Mayor Faulconer discussed San Diego's innovative solutions to homelessness, an issue that is challenging California municipalities."

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