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Harris begins border immigration talks in Guatemala, after shaky start Sunday

The vice president's plane had a mechanical issue shortly after takeoff that forced its return.

Published: June 7, 2021 9:35am

Updated: June 7, 2021 12:33pm

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday officially began her diplomatic efforts in Guatemala in meeting with President Alejandro Giammattei – following a shaky start Sunday to her diplomatic efforts on immigration when her plane had to return from takeoff because of a mechanical problem.

Harris on Monday attempted to instill optimism that Guatemalans can continue to immigrate the the U.S., amid a recent surge of immigrants at the southern U.S. border that has overwhelmed the federal government.

"Hope does not exist by itself, it must be coupled with relationships and trust, it must be coupled with tangible outcomes in terms of what we do as leaders to convince people that there is a reason to be hopeful about their future and the future of their children," said Harris, according to the Associated Press.

The three-day trip to Guatemala and Mexico will be the first major test of Harris' diplomatic skills as vice president. She hopes to stem migration to the U.S. from those so-called Northern Triangle countries.  

Her comments came at the start of her bilateral meeting with Giammattei. Harris plans to address a wide range of issues during the talks – from vaccine sharing to corruption in the region, the wire service also reports.

The first flight Sunday returned to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after about 30 minutes, and Harris boarded another craft after about 90 minutes later, reaching Guatemala several hours later. 

Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders, who was aboard the flight with Harrris, told reporters that there was no immediate issue but the crew had noticed the landing gear was not storing properly, which could have resulted in further mechanical issues

“We all said a little prayer, but we’re good,” Harris said after departing from the first plane.

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