Mexico president cancels Trump summit as wall taunt deepens spat

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday he had scrapped plans to meet Donald Trump next week. (File Photo: AP)

Mexico’s president on Thursday scrapped a planned summit with Donald Trump in the face of insistent tweets from the US president demanding Mexico pay for a border wall, a deepening spat that threatens Mexican efforts to salvage trade ties.

However, the White House left open the door for a possible rapprochement. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the United States was keeping open lines of communication with Mexico and looking to reschedule the meeting.

Taking a page out of Trump’s playbook, President Enrique Pena Nieto fired the salvo on Twitter, after Trump’s call for Mexico to foot the bill for his planned wall prompted a groundswell of calls in Mexico for next week’s meeting to be called off.

Trump said in a Twitter message earlier on Thursday that his Mexican counterpart should cancel his scheduled visit to Washington if Mexico refuses to pay for the wall that he has ordered constructed along the border. Trump views the wall, a major promise during his election campaign, as part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration.

Mexico has long insisted it will not pay for the planned wall.

“We have informed the White House that I will not attend the working meeting planned for next Tuesday with @POTUS,” Pena Nieto tweeted. “Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach agreements that favor both nations.”

Trump, who took office last Friday, signed an executive order for construction of the wall on Wednesday, the same day that Mexico’s foreign minister held talks with Trump aids in the White House aimed at healing ties.

Relations have been frayed since Trump launched his campaign in 2015, characterizing Mexican migrants as murderers and rapists and pledging to build a wall that he said Mexico would pay for.

Trade ties are in the balance after Trump vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and slap high tariffs on American companies that have moved jobs south of the border.

Mexico’s peso, which has fallen sharply against the US dollar in the face of Trump’s stances on trade and immigration, extended losses to 1 percent after Pena Nieto fired off his tweet.

“The US has a 60-billion-dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers... of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” Trump said in his Twitter message.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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