Mexican president’s US visit canceled after phone call with Trump

By Conor
Finnegan and Jordyn Phelps, ABCNews, Feb 26, 2018
President Enrique Peña Nieto was preparing to visit the U.S. and meet with
President Donald Trump
until a phone call last week devolved into a testy exchange over Trump’s
proposed border wall, two senior administration officials confirmed to ABC


Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique
Pena Nieto arrive for a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico
City, on Aug. 31, 2016.

disagreement is the latest blow to relations between the two neighbors as the
administration continues to swing between cooperation and fiery rhetoric – and
the allies remain at loggerheads over a border wall.

The plans
for Peña Nieto to visit were in an early planning phase, according to both
officials, with one saying the call was supposed to lay the groundwork for a
formal invitation for a visit during which the two leaders would sign a series
of agreements on “broad-based” issues like security and energy.
according to one official, Trump went off script and brought up the wall. Peña
Nieto said Mexico would not support the wall, while Trump reiterated his
campaign position that it would. Both sides then concluded together that now
was not the right time to move forward with a visit, according to the other
two leaders mutually agree now was not the immediate right time for a visit,
but that they would not their teams continue to talk and work together,”
the official told ABC News.
The call
was not nasty, but stern or firm, according to the officials.
has had no comment on the testy call or the cancelled visit/ Last week, it
issued a statement saying the two men discussed mutual issues of security,
trade and migration.
A calling
card of his campaign, Trump is moving ahead with plans for a border wall,
although many of the details, such as how long or in which parts, are still
unknown. U.S. Customs and Border Protection began testing wall prototypes in
December, with six companies chosen to build eight sample walls — four made of
concrete and four of other materials.
has denied repeatedly that it would pay for the wall, and Peña Nieto opposes
its construction.
J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Homeland Security border patrol vehicle monitors the border area where
prototypes of President Trump’s proposed border wall are standing, Nov. 1, 2017
in San Diego, California.
The White
House declined to confirm the details, but a spokesperson for the National
Security Council
stressed that the two countries’ alliance remains
enjoy a great relationship with Mexico, and the two administrations have been
working for a year to deepen our cooperation across a range of issues,
including security, immigration, trade and economics,” NSC spokesperson
Michael Anton told ABC News.
in both countries are scrambling now to put things back together in order to
get those memoranda of understanding signed. Despite the hot rhetoric from
Trump, and the deep dislike of him in Mexico, the U.S. and Mexico have close
cooperation on issues like countering drug cartels and weapons trafficking, in
large part due to the work of Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Sullivan/Getty Images
A view of
the US-Mexican border fence at Playas de Tijuana, on Jan. 27, 2017, in Tijuana,
But while
Tillerson was in Mexico at the start of February touting the partnership with
Mexico, Trump was back at the White House, blasting the country for pouring
drugs into the U.S. and threatening to cut off aid.
countries are not our friends,” Trump said during a roundtable with
Customs and Border Protection officials. “We send them massive aid, and
they’re pouring drugs into our country, and they’re laughing at us.”
like those have fed Trump’s unpopularity in Mexico, with 65 percent of Mexicans
holding unfavorable views of the U.S. in fall 2017, according to a poll
released in July by the firm Buendia and Laredo, the Chicago Council of Global
Affairs, and the Woodrow
International Center for Scholars.
remains unclear when the visit will be back on, especially ahead of Mexico’s
fast-approaching presidential
in July. Given Trump’s unpopularity, it may become harder
and harder politically for Peña Nieto and his party to be seen meeting with