President Donald Trump revealed before a meeting with Mexican President Pena Nieto that he still intends to compel Mexico to pay for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Both leaders had previously agreed to not publicly discuss the border wall.
On July 7, Trump met with Nieto at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The bilateral meeting marked the first time that the two leaders had personally met since August 2016. Before the private meeting, Trump and Nieto offered remarks together before reporters.
"We're renegotiating NAFTA and some other things with Mexico, and we'll see how it all turns out, but I think we've made very good progress," Trump said, according to the Washington Post.
When journalists began filing out of the room, Trump was asked if he still wanted Mexico to pay for his proposed border wall.
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"Absolutely," Trump responded. Nieto did not have time to respond before reporters had left the room.
Following the bilateral meeting, the White House disclosed that Trump and Nieto had discussed a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and "regional challenges, including drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and the crisis in Venezuela."
Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray said: "The issue of the wall was not discussed, was not part of the conversation."
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Videgaray disclosed that negotiations of a new NAFTA trade deal would begin on Aug. 16.
On Jan. 25, Nieto asserted during a national address that his country would never finance Trump's border wall.
On Jan. 27, Trump and Nieto issued a joint statement agreeing not to discuss the matter in public after they had exchanged a war of words on the proposal that resulted in a canceled diplomatic meeting.
"Regarding payment of the border wall, both presidents recognized their clear and very public differences of opinion on this sensitive subject, and agreed to resolve their differences as part of a comprehensive discussion ... The president also agreed for now to not talk publicly about this controversial issue," the statement read, according to Reuters.
Trump's comment before the bilateral meeting ignited outrage across Mexico, with much of the ire aimed at Nieto himself.
"Trump broke the deal they had of not talking about the wall in public," Professor Carlos Bravo Regidor of the Center for Teaching and Research in Economics in Mexico City told The Guardian. "And Pena Nieto should have called him, right there, to his face on [it]. He didn't. Trump is a bully, but Pena Nieto is a coward."
"Trump says again that Mexico will pay for the wall," tweeted out Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. "When will [Nieto] dare to say to his face and in public that Mexico will not pay?"
A global survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and released on June 26 found that Trump's call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was his least popular policy position worldwide, with a median 76 percent of the 37 countries surveyed opposing the proposal. An overwhelming 94 percent of Mexican respondents said they opposed the construction of such a wall, indicating that the issue is an extraordinarily sensitive topic among Nieto's citizens.