President Joe Biden departed the Bay Area on Friday after spending four days in the region for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco to meet with other world leaders.
Biden left from San Francisco International Airport on Friday afternoon for his home in Delaware, where he had no events immediately scheduled following a busy week in the Golden State that included a bilateral meeting in Woodside with Chinese President Xi Jinping and various meals and events involving the 21 heads of state who attended APEC.
The conference drew several protests, including one that shut down the Bay Bridge on Thursday morning by people calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas in Gaza.
Prior to his departure on Friday, Biden met for eight minutes before the media with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at Moscone Center.
The two leaders appeared relaxed and familiar with one another as Biden opened with an anecdote about being slightly jealous at dinner the previous night, when First Lady Jill Biden talked at length with Obrador.
Pledging cooperation with Mexico
Biden’s comments addressed the two countries’ bilateral cooperation on addressing the opioid crisis, migration and trade. According to the U.S. State Department, Mexico became the top U.S. trading partner in early 2023, with bilateral trade totaling $263 billion in the first four months of the year and accounting for more than 15 percent of total U.S. trade.
“We’re working side by side to combat arms trafficking, to combat and tackle organized crime and to address the opioid epidemic, including fentanyl,” Biden said.
Obrador’s statements touched on the same topics emphasizing their great relationship. He complimented Biden for opening pathways to U.S. citizenship and for being the first president in recent times who has not built walls.
“We’re working side by side to combat arms trafficking, to combat and tackle organized crime and to address the opioid epidemic, including fentanyl.”President Joe Biden
“Upon a request placed by Central America and the Caribbean,” he said about migratory flows from those countries, “Migrants are allowed to enter the United States, which means that they no longer have to cross our country, with all the suffering and risks such an endeavor poses.”
Obrador closed by mentioning that over 40 million Mexicans live in the U.S., and many Americans are moving to Mexico and making it their second home. The presidents did not take questions from reporters.
Passing the gavel
For many of the general public outside Moscone Center, the weeklong APEC summit was defined by heavy security measures that limited access and snarled traffic throughout the city. That security was on display during Friday’s meeting between Biden and Obrador, and at a separate event in which he officially transferred the APEC chair position to President Dina Boluarte of Peru, which will host the next version of APEC in 2024.
The president headed from SFO back to the East Coast and is bound for his home in Delaware and had no public events planned for Saturday.
Bay City News editor Dan McMenamin contributed to this story.