Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Thursday that he’s canceled his planned visit to see President Trump next week, retaliating for the strict new executive orders issued a day earlier.
In a Twitter post, Mr. Pena Nieto said he remains a friend to the U.S. and is willing to work on agreements — as long as they favor Mexicans.
It’s a direct challenge to Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly said Mexico was defeating the U.S. in bilateral relations, and who had vowed to push U.S. interests for forcefully.
“This morning we informed the White House that I will not attend the scheduled work meeting for next Tuesday,” Mr. Pena Nieto said in Spanish.
He had hinted he might pull out of the meeting a day earlier, after hearing Mr. Trump’s new executive orders on immigration, which push Mexico to do more to step up its own enforcement and call for building a wall to seal off the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
The White House took the cancellation in stride.
“We will look for a date to schedule something in the future. We will keep the lines of communication open,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.
He said the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico was of “great importance,” but added that Mr. Trump’s remained committed to his plan to build a border wall.
“The president’s been very clear on his intention to build the wall and how it would be paid for. I think he’s been consistent with that throughout,” said Mr. Spicer. “I think he wants to make sure that’s understood that it would be part of the topics to be discussed.”
Mexico for years has balked at any U.S. effort to erect barriers on its side of the border, saying it is a poor sign between friendly nations. Mr. Trump’s wall had elevated those concerns to a higher level — particularly after the U.S. president said he would find a way to make Mexico foot the bill for the wall.
Early Thursday morning Mr. Trump said that if Mexico was unwilling to talk about paying for the wall, then Mr. Pena Nieto should follow through on his threat to cancel the meeting.
• S.A. Miller contributed to this article.
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