U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged Mexico to be on the lookout for Russian meddling in its elections, citing reports of Moscow’s interference in the electoral process of countries around the world.
"We hear [reports of election meddling] from our European counterparts. My advice would be...pay attention to what's happening," he said on February 2 in Mexico City on the first stop of a Latin American tour.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to benefit Donald Trump and hurt the chances of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Russia has also been accused of intervening in votes in Italy, Finland, Britain, France, and elsewhere -- allegations Moscow denies.
Tillerson’s comments follow remarks by U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who said there was already evidence of Russian meddling in Mexican elections scheduled for July.
"All I can say to you is that we know that Russia has fingerprints in a number of countries around the world,” Tillerson said during a news conference with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray.
Polls indicate that left-wing former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is favored to win the July presidential election.
An aide to potential presidential candidate Jose Antonio Meade, who is biddng to run for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has warned that Russia could attempt to interfere to benefit Lopez Obrador.
Before departing on his regional tour, Tillerson in a speech on February 1 warned countries of the Western Hemisphere to beware of “alarming” actions by Russia and China in their region, urging them to work with the United States instead.
"Latin America doesn't need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people," Tillerson said in speech in Texas on February 1.
Tillerson said in the speech that Russia’s "growing presence in the region is alarming.”
He added that Moscow “continues to sell arms and military equipment to unfriendly regimes who do not share or respect democratic values.”
Tillerson will also visit Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Jamaica on the tour.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and The Financial Times