Mexican President says he did not discuss 'the wall' with Trump after US President claims Mexico will pay for it

'It was not subject of the conversation,' the Mexican Foreign Minister says of the wall

Emily Shugerman
New York
Friday 07 July 2017 15:46
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Donald Trump says he still wants Mexico to pay for the wall at G20 summit

Donald Trump did not so much as mention the prospect of a wall on the US-Mexico border after publicly suggesting that his southern neighbour should pay for it, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said.

Mr Trump and Mr Peña Nieto met recently on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. In a photo op before their meeting, Mr Trump said he "absolutely" expected Mexico to pay for the wall.

According to a spokesman for Mr Peña Nieto, however, Mr Trump did not broach the subject during their ensuing talks.

"It is a subject that was not touched, because we have a noticeable difference," Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told Mexico's "In the Morning" radio programme. "It was not subject of the conversation".

In fact, Mr Videgaray added, Mr Peña Nieto didn't even hear the President's photo-op comment.

"I was there and I did not hear it. President Peña did not hear it either," the spokesman said.

In tweets following the meeting, Mr Peña Nieto said he spoke with Mr Trump about issues surrounding migration, security and economic development – including the importance of "modernising Nafta". He did not mention talks about the wall.

A White House readout of the meeting also did not mention the border wall.

Instead, the White House said the two men discussed "regional challenges" like drug trafficking, illegal migration, and the crisis in Venezuela.

The meeting marked the first visit between the two leaders since Mr Trump took office. He had previously travelled to Mexico as a candidate, and even gave a joint speech with Mr Peña Nieto.

The relationship deteriorated, however, when Mr Trump threatened to raise tariffs on Mexico in order to pay for the border wall. The Mexican President baulked, and cancelled their scheduled meeting.

"It is evident that we have some differences with the new government of the United States, like the topic of the wall, that Mexico of course will not pay," he said at the time.

Mr Trump had made the promise of a wall between Mexico and the US a hallmark of his campaign, claiming it would help control illegal immigration and the flow of drugs. He repeatedly insisted – despite protestations – that Mexico would fund the wall itself. Calls of "Build the wall!" were common at his rallies and fundraisers.

Since taking office, however, Mr Trump's proposal has lost some steam. Congress failed to allocate any funding to the wall's construction in their 2018 budget, and even Republicans appear opposed to the plan.

Asked recently if the wall would be built during his first term in office, Mr Trump replied only, "Yeah sure, we have plenty of time".

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