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El Salvador says it’s not ready to receive asylum seekers

February 6, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019 file photo, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, Minister of Foreign Affairs for El Salvador speaks during a joint news conference with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan at the US Customs and Border Protection Headquarters in Washington. El Salvador is not ready to receive asylum seekers from the United States and will not accept them until it can offer them the necessary protections and support, Hill Tinoco said Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019 file photo, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, Minister of Foreign Affairs for El Salvador speaks during a joint news conference with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan at the US Customs and Border Protection Headquarters in Washington. El Salvador is not ready to receive asylum seekers from the United States and will not accept them until it can offer them the necessary protections and support, Hill Tinoco said Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador is not ready to receive asylum seekers from the United States and will not accept them until it can offer them the necessary protections and support, Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco said Wednesday.

El Salvador is one of three Central American governments that signed bilateral agreements with the U.S. government last year that would allow the U.S. to send asylum seekers from its Southwest border to instead apply for asylum in Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.

Guatemala started receiving asylum seekers in November, and Honduras and El Salvador are expected to follow.

“We are not going to admit anyone seeking asylum until we as a country have the conditions and technical, financial and human capacity to be able to give these people who are seeking asylum and sent to another country the best treatment,” Hill Tinoco said.

The so-called Asylum Cooperation Agreements are among the measures the U.S. government has taken to close the door to asylum seekers arriving at its border with Mexico.

Hill Tinoco said her government is at the point of determining the technical team that will meet with their U.S. counterparts to develop a plan of how it could work.