MEXICO CITY — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, met with Mexico’s president on Wednesday, arriving just weeks after a planned meeting between the nations’ leaders fell apart because of a bitter phone dispute over Mr. Trump’s proposed border wall.
Mr. Kushner’s meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto was meant to soothe tensions. Plans for the two presidents to meet have been abruptly canceled at least twice since Mr. Trump took office, and the relationship between their countries is suffering its roughest patch in decades.
But the encounter between Mexico’s president and Mr. Kushner, a political newcomer whose top-secret security clearance was stripped last month, underscored the profound shift in approach that the Trump administration has taken with Mexico, and with the region more broadly.
Officials announced the visit less than a day before it happened, offering no guidance on what would be discussed.
Beyond that, Mr. Kushner, who also met with Mexico’s foreign minister, did not invite the American ambassador — Roberta S. Jacobson, a diplomat with more than 30 years of experience in the region — to join him in the meetings, according to a senior American official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
“This is not the way foreign policy normally is, or should be, conducted,” said Christopher Sabatini, a lecturer at Columbia University. “The sending of the president’s son-in-law — someone with no experience in Mexican-U.S. relations — is another example of the de-professionalization and personalization of diplomacy that will hurt U.S. interests and leverage in the region.”
Just this year, three of the State Department’s most experienced diplomats on Latin America have resigned: Tom Shannon, the No. 3 official in the department; John Feeley, the ambassador to Panama; and Mrs. Jacobson, the ambassador to Mexico, who will leave her post in May.
Their departures have coincided with a marked increase in hostility from Washington toward countries in the region.