Washington (AFP) - The US Defense Department said Tuesday that it would keep up to 5,500 troops deployed at the Mexican border for the coming year to help combat illegal immigration.

A week after announcing it would divert $3.6 billion in funds for the construction of an anti-migrant wall on the frontier, the Pentagon said it had also approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to maintain a troop presence as well.

The Defense Department "will provide up to 5,500 personnel to provide infrastructure support; operational support; detection and monitoring support; and air support," said Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Mitchell.

The increased military presence on the US side of the border mirrors a significantly expanded deployment by Mexican troops, following pressure from President Donald Trump, including threat of trade sanctions.

Vice President Mike Pence met Tuesday with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in Washington and "acknowledged the government...

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