The United States and Mexico are both denying that U.S. President Donald Trump warned he was ready to send American troops into Mexico.
The Associated Press and a Mexican journalist in Washington both reported that Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a phone call last week that he would deploy U.S. forces to deal with the "bad hombres down there" unless Mexico did more to control them.
The AP account was based on a partial transcript of the call that it was given on the condition of anonymity by a person who had access to the official transcript. The AP noted it was not possible to determine the tone of Trump's remark.
The New York Times said a senior administration official told the newspaper Wednesday night that Trump's comments were made in jest, and represented a standing offer to aid Mexico in fighting drug gangs and controlling the border.
Mexican presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said it is "absolutely false" that Trump suggested he would send U.S. troops to Mexico. Sanchez said Trump and Pena Nieto acknowledged their differences on various subjects, but expressed a desire to maintain dialogue to reach agreement between the two countries.
One of Trump's first acts as president was to sign an executive order for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He promised throughout his campaign to build the wall and have Mexico pay for it.
Pena Nieto has made it clear his government will not pay for the wall, and he canceled a planned visit to the U.S. after Trump signed the order. Their telephone call was intended to patch up relations.