WASHINGTON - U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei spoke by phone on Tuesday and agreed to work together to address the root causes of migration to the United States, the White House said in a statement.
"They agreed to explore innovative opportunities to create jobs and to improve the conditions for all people in Guatemala and the region, including by promoting transparency and combating crime," the statement said.
President Joe Biden has named Harris to lead U.S. efforts with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to try to stem the flow of migration, which has climbed sharply in recent weeks.
Harris thanked Giammattei for his efforts to secure Guatemala's southern border, the White House said.
Guatemala's government, in a statement, said that during the call Giammattei underlined his interest in Guatemalan citizens living in the United States being granted temporary protected status.
Temporary protected status allows nationals of certain countries, often facing armed conflict or major natural disasters, who are already in the United States to remain and work there.
Harris also accepted an invitation by Giammattei to visit the Central American country at a future date, Guatemala said.
Several hundred Hondurans set off on Tuesday for the Guatemalan border, seeking to reach the United States, according to local media and a Reuters witness. But by afternoon they had largely dispersed.
Other recent caravans have been broken up by Guatemalan authorities and this relatively small one appeared to dissolve before reaching the Guatemala border.
The group was the second large caravan to set out from Honduras this year, following catastrophic flooding in November from two hurricanes that battered an already struggling economy.