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Mexican President Contradicts Trump on Who’ll Pay for Border Wall

Donald Trump went to Mexico yesterday to meet with Mexican President Nieto. He did not discuss the payment of the border wall with Nieto.

The Hill reports:

Donald Trump on Wednesday said he declined to discuss with the Mexican president whether Mexico would pay for the border wall that has become a centerpiece of Trump’s presidential campaign.

But while Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto didn’t contradict that claim during the joint press conference, he tweeted Wednesday night that he told the GOP presidential hopeful his country would not be on the hook for the wall.

“At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” he wrote. “From there, the conversation addressed other subjects and developed in a respectful manner.”

Peña’s tweets followed quickly behind a Reuters report that contradicted Trump’s version of their discussion.

“What the president said is that Mexico, as he has said on several occasions … will not pay for that wall,” presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told Reuters Wednesday evening.

When asked for a comment, Peña Nieto’s office directed The Hill to his tweets.

During their joint appearance in Mexico City, Trump said that while he brought up his proposal to build the wall to Peña, the two “didn’t discuss” who would pay.

“We did discuss the wall, we didn’t discuss payment of the wall, that will be for a later date. This was a preliminary meeting, I think it was an excellent meeting” Trump said.

“A lot of the things I said are very strong, but we have to be strong.”

The Trump campaign said it looks forward to continuing the conversation with Mexico and that Trump wasn’t trying to negotiate.

“Today was the first part of the discussion and a relationship builder between Mr. Trump and President Peña Nieto,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement Wednesday evening. “It was not a negotiation, and that would have been inappropriate. It is unsurprising that they hold two different views on this issue, and we look forward to continuing the conversation.”

And a Trump spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that when Peña Nieto told Trump in their meeting that Mexico wouldn’t pay for the wall, Trump didn’t respond — so because there was no discussion, Trump didn’t lie to reporters.

Trump’s border wall is a pivotal piece of his immigration strategy: the second point on his positions page on his campaign website is about how Mexico must pay for it. His campaign rallies regularly break out into chants of “build the wall” and the nominee also does a call-and-response with the crowd with his supporters shouting that Mexico will pay for it.

Peña Nieto didn’t address his thoughts on the wall in front of the press; he previously told CNN that there’s “no way” Mexico will pay for it. When asked about his own critiques of Trump, he offered an optimistic tone.

“There have been misinterpretations that unfortunately have hurt and impacted Mexicans in terms of the perceptions that the candidate … that the Mexican people had felt insulted by certain comments,” he said, according to a translation. “But I was certain that [Trump’s] genuine interest is to build a relationship that will provide both our societies with better conditions.”

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

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