Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has reportedly scrapped his plans to visit the White House after a contentious call with President Trumpdiscussing his proposed border wall.
U.S. and Mexican officials familiar with the call told The Washington Postthat Peña Nieto and Trump reached an impasse while discussing the wall. Peña Nieto reportedly asked Trump to publicly affirm Mexico’s stance that it will not pay for the wall, but Trump refused to cave.
A Mexican official told the paper that Trump “lost his temper” during the 50-minute call. U.S. officials said that Trump was “exasperated” and “frustrated” because he thought Peña Nieto’s expectation was unreasonable, according to the Post.
Peña Nieto’s visit was not yet confirmed, but was expected to take place sometime in the coming weeks. The Mexican president is facing a presidential election in July.
The border wall, one of Trump’s most divisive campaign promises, has been a source of contention between the two nations. Peña Nieto canceled a planned meeting with Trump in January 2017 due to conflict with Trump over the North American Free Trade Agreement and the border wall.
Arturo Sarukhan, a former Mexican ambassador to the United States, told The Washington Post that Trump has “painted” the relationship between the two countries “into a corner” with his insistence that Mexico would pay for the wall.
“Even from the get-go, the idea of Mexico paying for the wall was never going to fly,” Sarukhan said. “[Trump’s] relationship with Mexico isn’t strategically driven. It’s not even business; it’s personal, driven by motivations and triggers, and that’s a huge problem. It could end up with the U.S. asking itself, ‘Who lost Mexico?’ ”
Trump said repeatedly during the campaign that Mexico would foot the bill for the border wall expansion. And during a phone call in August, Trump pleaded with Peña Nieto to not say publicly that his government would not pay for the wall, according to leaked transcripts.
“If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that,” Trump said at the time.
Trump’s proposed framework for immigration legislation includes $25 billion in funding for the wall.