Donald Trump omits demand that Mexico fund wall in Pena Nieto meeting
President Donald Trump said on Friday that Mexico should “absolutely” pay for his proposed border wall, a key part of his election campaign.
But Trump never raised the issue in a sit-down with Mexico’s president on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Germany, just like he didn’t when he visited Mexico City during the presidential campaign last year.
That omission was confirmed by Mexican officials and the White House’s own statement after the meeting, which mentioned trade, drug trafficking and the political crisis in Venezuela but was silent on the border wall.
As the two leaders began their meeting, a reporter asked Trump if he still wanted Mexico to pay for a wall to control the flow of undocumented immigrants into the US, a proposal that was one of Trump’s biggest applause lines during the presidential campaign. “Absolutely,” Trump said.
Yet even if Trump did want to discuss the wall with President Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico has repeatedly said it has no intention of paying for it. And the US president has focused more lately on efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and drug-policy cooperation with Mexico. He’s even suggested putting solar panels on the wall could help it pay for itself.
Trump says ‘solar wall’ on Mexican border would pay for itself.
“We’ve all had a very successful day and a very interesting day. It’s great to be with my friend, the president of Mexico,” Trump said as he and Pena Nieto began the meeting. “We’re negotiating NAFTA and some other things with Mexico. Let’s see how it all turns out. But I think we’ve made very good progress.”
Trump went on to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the most closely watched events at the summit. Trump and Putin shook hands at the start of the summit, and their foreign-policy chiefs—secretary of state Rex Tillerson and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov—met for an hour on the sidelines of the summit on Friday.
Trump earlier attended an opening session with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders, huddling with his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin ahead of the meeting. At the event, Trump was seated between Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
This is the first sit-down between the Mexican leader and Trump since Trump visited Mexico last August, before his election victory. Pena Nieto scrapped a January session after Trump tweeted that “it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting” if Mexico remained unwilling to pay for the construction of a “badly needed” border wall between the neighbouring allies and trading partners.
Trump in April threatened to terminate NAFTA, which he has highlighted as a cause of US job losses, only to pull back from that stance and call for renegotiating aspects of the agreement with Mexico and Canada.
While maintaining a push to increase deportations, Trump has dialled back the frequency and intensity of his rhetoric over the border wall even as he continues to tell supporters at rallies that the wall will be built. Many Republicans in Congress remain sceptical of the proposal.
At a rally last month in Iowa, the US president proposed building a border wall that includes solar panels, saying it could pay for itself by creating energy, thereby allowing Mexico to “pay much less.” Bloomberg