Mexico had asked the US not to label cartels as terrorist groups due to concerns over sovereignty. The issue came to the fore after nine US-Mexican citizens were killed by cartel members in early November.
US President Donald Trump said Friday he would temporarily refrain from designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups.
The decision came in response to a request from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose government said the terrorism label would infringe on its sovereignty.
"All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations,'' Trump wrote on Twitter. ``Statutorily we are ready to do so."
"However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel @LopezObrador_ we will temporarily hold off on this designation."
The Mexican president praised the reversal, telling reporters cooperation with Washington against cartels needed to be done "with respect for our sovereignty."
Mexican officials have pressed the US to make progress on preventing the flow of weapons and money from the United States to criminal gangs in Mexico.
Trump said that instead of slapping Mexican cartels with the terrorist label, the two countries would "step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!"
The issue of designating cartels came on the agenda after the killing of nine women and children from a US-Mexican Mormon community early last month.
cw/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)