President Donald Trump says Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto may as well stay at home next week instead of meeting with him if his country’s unwilling to pay for the border wall.
After Trump authorized immediate construction on the wall he’s long said Mexico will pay for, a senior aide to Pena Nieto told AP that the head of state might cancel his visit to Washington next Tuesday.
Pena Nieto did not say one way or another in a national address Wednesday while clearly stating: ‘Mexico will not pay for any wall.
Trump fired back this morning, saying in a tweet, ‘If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.’
Pena Nieto has repeatedly said his country won’t fund the construction of a physical barrier dividing Mexico from the United States. Trump has steadfastly said it will.
The American taxpayer will foot the bill for the border wall ‘for the sake of speed,’ Trump has said. Mexico will be paying the money back.
‘We’re going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico,’ he told ABC’s David Muir in a Wednesday interview. The wall would cost the U.S. ‘nothing,’ he proclaimed.
The U.S. president brushed off Pena Nieto’s rebuffs in the interview, telling Muir, ‘He has to say that.’
‘I’m just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form,’ Trump said.
Pena Nieto stood his ground in a video address. ‘I have said time and time again, Mexico will not pay for any wall,’ he said Wednesday evening.
A government official told the Associated Press that Pena Nieto was ‘considering’ a cancellation on his Jan. 31 White House visit. The Mexican president has not commented on the matter himself.
His first showdown with a world leader as president, Trump put Pena Nieto on notice again on Thursday morning.
‘The U.S. 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,’ he said in a two-part tweet.
Trump has said he intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He’s held back on a directive to his administration so far, presumably out of deference to Pena Nieto, who he’s scheduled to hold talks with next Tuesday at the White House.
Trump said Wednesday that he expects the United States’ relationship with Mexico to improve as a result of executive actions he took because the ‘unprecedented surge’ of illegal immigrants entering the United States is bad for both countries.
The renewed emphasis on the elimination of cartels, illegal weapons and illicit cash coming from drug dealing will be beneficial to Mexico, he said.
‘I want to emphasize that we will be working in particular with our friends in Mexico to improve safety and economic opportunity on both sides of the border,’ Trump stated Wednesday. Adding, ‘I have deep admiration for the people of Mexico.’