Mexican President scraps meeting with Donald Trump

  • 27/01/2017

The White House says it's looking for an opportunity to reschedule President Donald Trump's meeting with Mexico's president after Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a visit next week.

"We will look for a date to schedule something in the future. We will keep the lines of communication open," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Mr Peña Nieto scrapped the planned summit with Mr Trump in the face of insistent tweets from the US president demanding Mexico pay for a border wall.

Enrique Pena and Donald Trump
Enrique Pena and Donald Trump met in August 2016 (Getty)

It's a spat that threatens Mexican efforts to salvage trade ties. Taking a page out of Mr Trump's playbook, President Enrique Peña Nieto fired the salvo on Twitter, after Mr Trump's call for Mexico to foot the bill for his planned wall prompted a groundswell of calls in Mexico for next week's meeting to be called off.

"Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice," Mr Trump said in a speech to Republican leaders in Philadelphia on Friday (NZ time).

Mr Trump said in a Twitter message earlier on Thursday that his Mexican counterpart should cancel his scheduled visit to Washington if Mexico refuses to pay for the wall that he has ordered constructed along the border.

Mr Trump views the wall, a major part of his election campaign, as part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration.

He signed an executive order for construction of the wall on Wednesday, the same day that Mexico's foreign minister held talks with Mr Trump aides in the White House aimed at healing ties.

Relations have been frayed since Mr Trump launched his campaign in 2015, characterising Mexican migrants as murderers and rapists and pledging to build a wall that he said Mexico would pay for. Mexico has long said it will not pay for the wall.

Trade ties are in the balance after Mr Trump vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and slap high tariffs on American companies that have moved jobs south of the border.

Mexico's peso extended losses to one percent after Peña Nieto fired off his tweet.

On Thursday, leaders of the Republican-controlled US Congress said they planned to move ahead on funding the border wall, which they projected would cost between $US12 billion and $US15 billion. Mr Trump said in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday evening that Mexico would eventually reimburse the United States for the wall.

The timing caused outrage in Mexico, with prominent politicians and many on social media seeing at as a deliberate snub to the government's efforts to engage with Mr Trump, who has for months used Mexico as a political punching bag.

Border Control chief leaves agency

Meanwhile, Mr Trump's wall has already claimed its first scalp, with Border Control chief Mark Morgan reportedly stepping down from his role just a day after the executive order was signed.

However, it isn't clear whether Mr Morgan was asked to leave or resigned, the Associated Press reports.

It cites a US official and former official who said Border Patrol agents were told Mr Morgan was no longer with the agency; his last day will be on Tuesday.

It was a short tenure, with the former FBI agent appointed to the job in June, and only taking office in October.