Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has cancelled a planned visit to the U.S. because of President Trump’s unwillingness to back off of his demand that Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S.’ southern border. The decision was reportedly made after a contentious call between the two men this week.
The Mexican leader had been considering an official trip to the U.S. either this month or next but both countries agreed to abandon plans after Pena Nieto pressed President Trump to affirm Mexico’s position that it will not pay for a wall along the southern border, and President Trump declined to oblige. The topic was said to dominate the roughly 50-minute phone call that took place between the leaders on Tuesday.
With presidential elections looming in Mexico this summer, Pena Nieto is averse to placing himself in a position of weakness vis a vis his American counterpart. The perception of being bullied by its neighbor to the north damages prospects for Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party during the election.
Two completely divergent styles – Pena Nieto exceedingly formal and respectful & Trump freewheeling and brash – in addition to President Trump’s public posturing over the wall has painted the relationship into a corner, watchers say.
Still, negotiations between the respective administrations have been said to be proceeding at brisk pace on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), among other issues.
“We 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,” said National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton in a statement.
“I think in many ways the relationship today is more fluid,” Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said during a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month. “It’s closer than it was with previous administrations, which might be surprising to some people, but that’s a fact of life.”