Trump sees progress in Mexico talks but 'not almost enough'

President Trump speaks at a joint press conference in London on Tuesday

US and Mexican officials laboured for a second day Thursday to avert import tariffs that President Donald Trump is threatening to impose as he tries to strong-arm Mexico into stemming the flow of Central American migrants across America's southern border.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had meetings at the State Department on Thursday and staff-level meetings were scheduled for the afternoon with Mexican officials at the White House, a White House official said.

Honduran and Salvadoran migrants would have to seek asylum in Guatemala.

The officials described the accord's framework on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the global negotiations, but they expressed optimism that the deal was attainable.

With migrant apprehensions at the border with Mexico soaring to 144,000 in May, the highest number in 13 years, the Trump administration has threatened to hit all imports from Mexico with a five percent tariff starting Monday, a move that could savage the export-dependent Mexican economy.

Earlier in the week Ebrard rejected the idea, but the White House declared it one of its principle demands.

FILE - Central American migrants cross into Mexico from Guatemala, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, June 4, 2019.

Talks continued into the night at the State Department and were to resume Thursday.

And Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said before the White House meeting that the Mexicans had "a long list of things they're going to offer to us, and it will preclude tariffs going into effect".

"If no agreement is reached, tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule", the president said. "And I mean it, too".

Trump has increasingly relied on tariffs as a bludgeon to try to force other nations to bend to his will, dismissing warnings, including from fellow Republicans, about the likely impacts on American manufacturers and consumers.

"We've told Mexico the tariffs go on" if no deal is made, Trump told reporters in France, where he spoke at a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. "If he enacts those tariffs, they're not going to be overridden".

"The president's proposed tariffs would hurt American workers, businesses, and consumers. There's nothing more important than borders", he said. "If the president does declare a national emergency and attempt to put these tariffs into place, I will introduce a resolution of disapproval to stop his overreach".

"Position has not changed, and we are still moving forward with tariffs at this time", she said in a statement Thursday.

Trump's goal in this case is to persuade Mexican leaders to do more to keep would-be migrants from other Central American countries from traveling across Mexico to the American border.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador today called on the people to gather in the border city of Tijuana on Saturday to defend Mexico " s dignity in the face of Donald Trump " s tariff measures.

In an interview with CNN prior to the talks, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the threatened tariffs against Mexican goods "may not have to go into effect" if the country can take necessary measures to halt undocumented migrants crossing the southern USA border. But the Mexican government's proposed remedies were "not almost enough", he said.

"It is an act of unity to defend the dignity of Mexico and in favour of friendship with the people of the United States", he said of his plans at his daily morning news conference.

According to language in the document, the declaration is necessary due to "failure of the Government of Mexico to take effective action to reduce the mass migration of aliens illegally crossing into the United States through Mexico".