Business World

Mexican leader’s visit with Trump shelved over wall

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WASHINGTON — Mexico and the United States have shelved tentative plans for a visit to Washington by President Enrique Peña Nieto as tensions persist over a proposed border wall, US media reported Saturday.

Mr. Peña Nieto had already cancelled a visit in January last year because of US President Donald J. Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall, which he wants as part of his efforts to curb immigratio­n.

The White House had said in mid- February that the two presidents were working on arranging a meeting.

But The Washington Post, which first reported cancellati­on of the provisiona­l meeting, said both countries agreed to call it off after a testy telephone call ended in an impasse over the border barrier.

The phone call took place last Tuesday.

Citing US and Mexican officials, the Post said Mr. Trump “would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund constructi­on of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive.”

Mr. Peña Nieto’s visit had been considered for February or March, the Post said, but the Mexican leader wanted to avoid public embarrassm­ent.

Building the border wall was a primary pledge of the 2016 presidenti­al campaign by Mr. Trump, who says the barrier is necessary for his country’s security.

Asked about the reports, a Mexican presidenti­al source told AFP there would be no comment.

“There’s nothing additional to the last Tuesday statement,” the source said, referring to comments after the phone call.

Both countries said at the time that they agreed in their call to boost cooperatio­n on security, trade and migration.

In addition to disagreeme­nt over the wall, Mr. Trump’s attacks on Mexican immigrants and threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement have strained relations between the neighbors.

The leaders did meet once, on the sidelines of the G20 summit of major economies in Hamburg, Germany, last July.

Mexico goes to the polls this July as Mr. Peña Nieto approaches the end of his term, with his Institutio­nal Revolution­ary Party deeply unpopular. —

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