Mexico president blasts Trump's policies
as 'huge threat' after meeting
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[September 01, 2016]
By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's president
rebuked Donald Trump as a threat to his country just hours after
painting a positive picture of talks the two held on Wednesday to try to
defuse tensions over the U.S. presidential hopeful's anti-Mexican
President Enrique Pena Nieto had on Wednesday afternoon hailed as "open
and constructive" the impromptu meeting he held with Trump, who later
referred to the Mexican leader as his friend and a "wonderful"
But in a late evening television interview, an angry-looking Pena Nieto
sought to defend himself against a broad swathe of criticism for his
decision to invite the Republican candidate despite his repeated verbal
attacks on Mexico.
"His policy stances could represent a huge threat to Mexico, and I am
not prepared to keep my arms crossed and do nothing," Pena Nieto said.
"That risk, that threat, must be confronted. I told him that is not the
way to build a mutually beneficial relationship for both nations."
Trump's quick acceptance of an invitation sent last Friday took Mexico's
government by surprise, and his visit to Mexico City came just hours
ahead of a keynote speech on immigration as he sought to close the gap
on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The real estate mogul's accusations that Mexico sends rapists and drug
runners to the United States, and his threats to build a border wall and
tear up trade deals, have angered the government but his meeting with
Pena Nieto on Wednesday gave him a chance to present himself in a more
He spoke of Mexican-Americans in glowing terms and stressed the areas of
common interest between the two countries even as he stuck to his
message that he would put up the wall.
Pena Nieto had likened Trump to dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito
Mussolini earlier this year. But his government said Trump understood
its concerns at the meeting, making Pena Nieto's tense appearance on
television the more surprising.
"What we saw was a respectful attitude and discourse from Donald Trump,"
presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez had said earlier, arguing that
progress was made on the issue of trade after prior threats by Trump to
tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"I think there was an advance in general," he added.
Still, Trump laid out a series of tough policies to tackle illegal
immigration when he delivered his speech in Phoenix, Arizona, on
He told a cheering crowd that Mexico would pay for the wall "100
percent" and that if he wins the election anyone living illegally in the
United States would be sent back to their home country and made to apply
[to top of second column]
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President
Enrique Pena Nieto walk out after finishing a press conference at
the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016.
That would include millions of Mexicans.
Opposition politicians in Mexico rounded on Pena Nieto for hosting
"Instead of making him apologize, the government allowed (Trump) to
complete the humiliation of the Mexicans," Ricardo Anaya, leader of
the center-right opposition National Action Party, said on Twitter.
WALL TO WALL
Some Mexican officials also privately expressed reservations about
the meeting with one former diplomat saying Pena Nieto had done
Trump's campaign a favor.
During a joint news conference after their meeting, Trump said he
and Pena Nieto had not discussed his demand that Mexico pay for the
But Pena Nieto later contradicted Trump, saying he had told the
American that Mexico would not foot the bill, and he bristled during
his television interview when asked why he had not made that clear
at the news conference.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Mexican government official
said the two men spoke English during the meeting and that Pena
Nieto clearly explained to Trump the offense his comments had
"He's a candidate that offended a lot of Mexicans, so that's the
chemistry there was (between them)," the official said.
(Additional reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez, Lizbeth Diaz and
Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner)
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