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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Senior Mexican and U.S. officials have spoken ahead of a meeting in April on tackling drugs and weapons trafficking, the two governments said on Tuesday, even as Mexico sought to argue it is not a production hub for synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Officials are set to meet in Washington to discuss the so-called Bicentennial Framework, which will address the production of synthetic drugs, particularly fentanyl, and weapons smuggling.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had a phone conversation on Monday, the State Department said, with Blinken expressing a U.S. commitment to “protecting (both) communities from criminal networks.”

Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Monday evening security officials had “no record” of fentanyl production in Mexico and that the drug and its ingredients largely came from Asia.

In February, the Mexican Army reported its largest synthetic drug lab bust, nabbing half-a-million fentanyl pills in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

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Tensions over security rose this month, following the kidnapping of a group of Americans in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. Two were killed in an attack officials have suggested was carried out by a drug gang.

Blinken and Ebrard discussed the kidnapping, the State Department said.

Some U.S. Republicans have called for military intervention in Mexico to fight cartels, which Mexico has rejected.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry; editing by Grant McCool)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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