Trump speaks by phone with Mexican president after meeting canceled
Mexican : WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed new trade talks with Mexico after a phone conversation Friday with Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto, a day following a dispute over Trump’s proposed border wall that caused a rift between their two nations and cancellation of a scheduled meeting between the two leaders.
“We are going to be working on a fair relationship and a new relationship,” said Trump, who is pushing for new trade rules with Mexico and insisting that it help finance a wall along the U.S. border, despite the Mexican government’s insistence that it would never help finance such a structure.
The two countries issued nearly identical written statements on the call, with one notable exception: The Mexican statement said the two presidents agreed not to discuss the wall financing issue publicly, but the Trump statement did not have such a sentence.
Saying he had “a nice phone call” with Peña Nieto, Trump told reporters that the United States is losing “vast amounts” of businesses and its jobs to its southern neighbor, while drugs flow the other way into the United States.
“We’ll be negotiating and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Trump said nothing about the possibility of re-scheduling a personal meeting with Peña Nieto.
For its part, the Mexican government said in a communique:
“With respect to the payment of the border wall, both Presidents recognized their differences clear and very public position on this sensitive issue, and agreed to resolve these differences as part of a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of the bilateral relationship. The Presidents also agreed for now not to speak publicly about this controversial issue.”
The White House statement echoed much of the one from Mexico, except for the sentence about not publicly discussing the wall payment.
The two presidents also talked about “the current trade deficit the United States has with Mexico, the importance of the friendship between the two nations, and the need for the two nations to work together to stop drug cartels, drug trafficking and illegal guns and arms sales,” said the White House statement.
Trump also cited some of these issues when asked about the call with Peña Nieto during his news conference with May, the British prime minister.
Just before the call, Trump sent out a tweet again criticizing Mexican trade and migration: “Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough. Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!”
Repeating that sentiment during the news conference, Trump said the Mexicans have “out-negotiated us and beat us to a pulp … The United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies, and millions and millions of people losing their jobs. That won’t happen with me.”
He added: “The border is soft and weak and drugs are pouring in, and I’m not going to let that happen.”
On Thursday, Peña Nieto insisted his country would never pay for the wall as he announced he would not travel to Washington for a Trump meeting that had been set for Tuesday.
Later that day, the Trump administration floated the idea of a 20% tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall, though it later pulled back and said that is only one of several options.
Some members of Congress, including Republicans, have questioned Trump’s comments on Mexico, saying they could ignite a trade war that would hurt both countries.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he is concerned about Trump’s pledge to re-work the North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes Canada as well as Mexico.
“While re-negotiations could help to strengthen and modernize NAFTA to benefit American businesses and consumers, any effort to restrict or impose new barriers on our ability to trade with Mexico and Canada could jeopardize the future of this trade agreement and have serious consequences for Arizona and the country,” McCain said.
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