UPDATE 2-Mexico's Ebrard eyes common ground in U.S. talks on immigration, tariffs

Jason Lange

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WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) - Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday said he expects to find mutual understanding at talks with U.S. officials over immigration amid a diplomatic push to head off a punitive tariff threatened by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Ebrard told reporters Mexican officials planned to present an immigration proposal to their U.S. counterparts on Wednesday that they hoped could be a starting point for negotiations. Mexican lawmakers and private sector officials will also be visiting Washington this week to press Mexico's case, he added.

"We're going to find common ground, I think," he said at a news conference ahead of the second day of discussions that are expected to continue through Wednesday.

"We are ready" for negotiations, he added, saying talks so far have been "productive."

The large flows of migrants, many asylum seekers, have long sparked Trump's ire and helped fuel his successful bid for White House amid a campaign promise that he would make Mexico pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border. Efforts to get Mexico or U.S. lawmakers in Congress to fund the barrier have failed.

Last week, Trump threatened a blanket tariff on Mexican imports unless Mexico stopped the waves of Central American migrants seeking to reach the United States.

The move was aimed at pressuring Mexico, but it also spooked global markets and put a joint trade pact between the two countries and Canada further in doubt.

On Monday, Mexican officials vowed to reject a U.S. idea to take in all Central American asylum seekers if it was raised at talks this week with the Trump administration.

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Makini Brice Writing by Susan Heavey Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)