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  • Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales gestures after a meeting with acting Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, unseen in Guatemala City, Guatemala May 27, 2019.

    Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales gestures after a meeting with acting Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, unseen in Guatemala City, Guatemala May 27, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 July 2019

“The government of the republic reiterates that at no point it considers signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country."

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is postponing his visit to Washington as his office said the Central American leader had no interest in signing an agreement to make his country a safe third country.

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In a statement, Guatemala said the planned meeting between Morales and U.S. President Donald Trump this week had been postponed until the Guatemalan Constitutional Court had ruled on legal challenges. Last week, five former senior officials appealed to the court to block any agreement with the United States that would declare Guatemala a ‘safe third country.’

Guatemala's constitutional court late Sunday granted an injunction blocking President Jimmy Morales from signing a migration deal with the United States which would oblige it to offer asylum to migrants heading to the US border.

Under such a deal, Guatemala would be obliged to offer asylum to migrants who entered its territory en route to the United States. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the U.S.-Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala.

Over the past week, opposition has mounted to such a designation for Guatemala, which would reshape migration in the region.

“The government of the republic reiterates that at no point it considers signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country,” the Guatemalan government said:

A senior U.S. official said: “The meeting is being rescheduled.”

“The United States will continue to work with the Government of Guatemala on concrete and immediate steps that can be taken to address the ongoing migration crisis,” the U.S. official added.

As a "safe third country", Guatemala would be obliged to offer asylum to any migrants entering its territory on the way to the United States.

Many migrants from Honduras and El Salvador cross Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, to reach Mexico on their route to the US border.

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