• Kyodo

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Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray pledged Monday that his country will bolster cooperation with Japan to achieve a Pacific Rim free trade pact without the United States, praising Tokyo’s leadership in realizing the deal.

During a meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in Tokyo, part of which was open to the media, Videgaray emphasized that Mexico will make efforts to promote free trade in the Asia-Pacific region, apparently taking U.S. protectionism into account.

Japan has been eager to implement the free trade pact originally forged among 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership member nations, even though Washington later withdrew as President Donald Trump sought to pursue bilateral trade deals.

Mexico has recently expressed willingness to maintain the framework of the TPP for regional free trade, as it has also faced pressure to renegotiate NAFTA with the United States and Canada.

The TPP was signed in February 2016 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — covering around 40 percent of the global economy.

At Monday’s meeting, Videgaray also said Mexico has condemned North Korea’s launch late last Friday of an intercontinental ballistic missile, saying it is an action that threatens Japan, which he calls Mexico’s first ally among Asian countries.