- Henry Romero/REUTERS
President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday morning, Trump confirmed in a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday afternoon.
“We had a very good call. I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico,” Trump told reporters when asked about his rift with the Mexican president over who would pay for the wall the Trump administration is seeking to build on the US-Mexico border.
“But, as you know, Mexico with the United States has outnegotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders,” Trump continued. “They’ve made us look foolish.”
Mexico released a readout of Trump’s call with Peña Nieto on Friday that said the presidents “agreed at this point not to speak publicly” about the wall.
“Both presidents acknowledged their clear and very public differences in position on this sensitive issue,” the readout said,” and agreed to resolve those differences as part of a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of the bilateral relationship.”
The White House’s readout of the call made no mention of an agreement not to discuss the wall publicly, noting instead that the leaders “have agreed to work these differences out as part of a comprehensive discussion” and “instructed their teams to continue the dialogue to strengthen this important strategic and economic relationship.”
The call, which was said to have lasted about an hour, came one day after Peña Nieto announced he had canceled his meeting with Trump scheduled for next week at the White House.
The war of words began early on Thursday, when Trump tweeted: “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. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”
Peña Nieto responded with his own tweet: “This morning we have informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the @POTUS.” The Mexican president has repeatedly said Mexico would not pay for a border wall.
Trump hit back early Friday, apparently before he and Peña Nieto spoke by phone.
“Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough,” the president wrote at 5:19 a.m. ET. “Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!”