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Trump Meets with Mexican President for First Time Since Taking Office

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G20 Summit, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg.

U.S. President Donald Trump has met his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, for the first time since he took office, and told reporters he still wants Mexico to pay for a planned border wall, a source of tension between the countries.

Reporters packed the meeting site on the sidelines of the summit in Hamburg, Germany, where leaders of the world's 20 largest economies gathered. Asked before the meeting began if he still wanted Mexico to pay for the border wall, Trump said, "Absolutely."

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who took part in the 30-minute meeting, said the issue of the border wall did not come up in the actual talks. Trump called Pena Nieto a friend and said the two made "very good progress" in talks about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Pena Nieto said the meeting would "help us continue a very strong dialogue" on NAFTA, which Trump has pledged to renegotiate with Mexico and Canada.

Videgaray said he expected talks on renegotiating NAFTA to start on August 16, the earliest possible date.

Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican goods to protect U.S. business interests, and to pull out of NAFTA if he cannot rework it in the United States' favor.

The White House said Trump and Pena Nieto also discussed drug trafficking, illegal migration and the crisis in Venezuela.

Pena Nieto was scheduled to be among Trump's first international White House guests, but abruptly canceled the visit after Trump insisted Mexico would pay for the construction of a planned border wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Pena Nieto maintains that Mexico will not pay for the wall.

Since the cancellation of the trip, Trump and Pena Nieto have spoken by phone, and a series of high-level meetings between the two countries have eased the tensions.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, left, and Mexico's Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong arrive for a press conference in Mexico City, July 7, 2017.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, left, and Mexico's Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong arrive for a press conference in Mexico City, July 7, 2017.

On Wednesday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly traveled to Mexico and met with Pena Nieto. On Friday, Kelly met with Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who said at a news conference that Mexico and the United States are exploring new ways of combating arms trafficking and organized crime.

Kelly said Friday that Trump intends to make strong, durable bonds with Mexico.

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