By Louis Nelson / Politico
President Donald Trump said Thursday that if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is steadfast in his promise that his nation won’t pay for a wall along America’s southern border, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting” between the two leaders.
The warning, posted by Trump on Twitter Thursday morning, comes as tensions between the U.S. and its southern neighbor grow even more strained beneath the weight of the president’s campaign promises to get tough with Mexico on trade and immigration.
“The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost,” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into multiple posts. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”
Trump kicked off the process of constructing his long-promised border wall on Wednesday, signing an executive order to begin fulfilling one of the very first campaign promises he made. The president promised throughout his campaign that Mexico would pay for a “great wall” on the U.S. border, but since winning the White House, he has begun suggesting that U.S. taxpayers would front the money for the wall for expediency’s sake but will be reimbursed by the Mexican government.
Trump insisted in an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC News that Mexico will pay, albeit “perhaps a complicated form.” More broadly, Trump has railed against Mexico, suggesting that its leaders have taken advantage of the U.S. via the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the president has vowed to either renegotiate or back out of entirely.