Trump is set to give a speech on immigration Wednesday night
The visit follows months of warring words between Trump and Mexico's leaders
Donald Trump flew into a nation he has constantly berated during his campaign to meet President Enrique Peña Nieto and said they discussed a wall Trump has vowed to build on the US southern border, but not his demand that Mexico pay for it – an assertion the Mexican president later disputed.
“Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss,” Trump had said when asked by a reporter during a news conference following their meeting in Mexico City. “We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.”
But Peña Nieto later claimed the two had discussed the wall and who would pay for it – and he had “made it clear” to Trump it wouldn’t be Mexico.
“At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Peña Nieto tweeted, after their meeting Wednesday.
He added that his conversation with the Republican nominee then moved on to other topics in a respectful fashion.
Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, called the meeting “the first part of the discussion and a relationship builder” between the two men, after Peña Nieto tweeted.
“It was not a negotiation, and that would have been inappropriate. It is unsurprising that they hold two different views on this issue, and we look forward to continuing the conversation,” he said in a statement.
In subsequent interviews in Mexico, Peña Nieto reiterated his version of events. He told CNN affiliate Televisa in an interview late Wednesday some of the positions Trump has taken “are a threat to Mexico.”
He also told the outlet he was very clear with Trump about the subject of a wall at the border and insisted Mexico would not pay for it and he made Trump aware that the people of Mexico had been “very insulted.”
Peña Nieto, speaking alongside Trump during their joint appearance, twice stressed the “responsibility” he has to defend Mexican people around the world and said Trump has made “assertions that regrettably had hurt and have affected Mexicans.”
“The Mexican people have felt hurt by the comments that have been made. But I am sure that his genuine interest is to build a relationship that will give both of our society’s better welfare,” Peña Nieto said.
Trump apparently left his tough deal-making persona at home as he received a presidential-style news conference on foreign soil while on a high-risk trip to Mexico on Wednesday.
The visit appeared to be an attempt to bolster Trump’s credentials as a potential world leader, following searing attacks on his temperament by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The spur-of-the-moment trip also came hours before Trump was due to deliver a speech in Arizona meant to clarify his murky immigration policy amid signs he is softening his prior promise to deport 11 million undocumented migrants.
Trump’s claim that they didn’t discuss who would pay for the wall – despite his call for Mexico to finance