President Trump said Tuesday he will designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorists, prompting Mexican officials to seek further talks with the U.S.
Asked by former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in an interview whether he would designate Mexican cartels as terror groups and target them, Trump replied, "I don't want to say what I'm going to do, but they will be designated."
O'Reilly later asked Trump again whether he would designate them as terror groups.
"Absolutely," the president replied. "I've been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we're well into that process."
Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement later Tuesday that it would seek high-level meeting with State Department officials to address the designation and the flow of money to organized crime, Reuters reported.
“The foreign minister will establish contact with his counterpart, Michael R. Pompeo, in order to discuss this very important issue for the bilateral agenda,” the ministry said, according to Reuters.
Some Republicans have pushed for such designations in the past.
Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in February requesting that the U.S. label violent drug cartels as terrorist organizations. Roy also called for cartels to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations in an op-ed in The Hill this month.
Trump's comments also follow a recent attack in northern Mexico that left multiple U.S. citizens dead that is believed to be tied to Mexican organized crime.
After the incident, Trump said that Mexico and the U.S. should "wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth."
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined the offer, saying, "It's not in agreement with our convictions. The worst thing is war."