Germany's foreign minister has offered his Mexican counterpart assistance in identifying dozens of students, believed murdered by a police-backed criminal gang. The pair also discussed security ties.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Mexico's Jose Antonio Meade for talks in Berlin on Tuesday, promising German help to identify dozens of Mexican students, suspected dead in a gang massacre.
It is alleged the 43 students were killed in September by a police-backed militia in Mexico's southwestern Guerrero state, triggering outrage and widespread protests within Mexico. Only one victim has been identified from charred remains.
Authorities suspect the former mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, of ordering the kidnappings. Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, have been in custody since November. Pineda has been charged with organized crime and money laundering.
Abarca stands accused of ordering police to prevent the students from staging a protest at an event hosted by Pineda. Authorities allege police handed over the group to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang - of which Penida's brothers are thought to be members - who allegedly killed them, burned the bodies and threw the remains into a river.
More than 90 people have been arrested in connection with the student disappearances, most of them municipal police.
Mistrust over the apparent corruption within Mexico's police forces is one of the things Meade is working to overcome during his trip to Berlin. Meade is pushing for a security cooperation between the two countries, and has defended his country's federal police, describing insecurity as a regional problem.
"Those who have been involved in these crimes were municipal forces, that in no way reflect the quality of our federal forces," Meade told reporters.
"Violence in Mexico peaked in 2011. Since then, it has reduced," he added.
He described Mexico's relationship with Germany as one of his country's most important, particularly for reciprocal investment opportunities and tourism.
A petition from activist group Avaaz has called on Steinmeier to hold off negotiating any security pact until the student killings are fully investigated.
jr/bw (AP, dpa)