Mexico wall: Trump questions talks over border dispute

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Portions of a barrier have already been built on the US-Mexico border

[BBC] – Donald Trump has suggested that Mexico’s president should cancel a planned visit to Washington if Mexico refuses to pay for the border wall.

It comes after Enrique Pena Nieto again rebuffed Mr Trump’s assertion that Mexico would end up funding the wall. The Mexican president made no mention of changing their 31 January meeting.

President Trump has signed an executive order for an “impassable physical barrier” and insisted Mexico will reimburse the US. He responded to President Pena Nieto’s statement by saying his counterpart should cancel the trip.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump suggested Mexico owed the US for the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

“The US 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,” he wrote.

“If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

Earlier Mr Pena Nieto said he “lamented” the plans for the barrier. In a televised address, Mr Pena Nieto told the nation: “I’ve said time and again; Mexico won’t pay for any wall.

“I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us.”

He added that “Mexico doesn’t believe in walls”.

But Mr Pena Nieto said his country offered “its friendship to the American people and its willingness to reach accords with their government”.

Earlier Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray – in Washington to lead a delegation that has held talks at the White House – told the Televisa network his country’s president was still weighing up next Tuesday’s visit but said “the meeting stands for now”.Mr Pena Nieto met Mr Trump – then a presidential candidate – in Mexico City in September and came under intense criticism at home. His current approval ratings remain low.

Mr Trump said in an interview with ABC News that Mexico would “absolutely, 100%” reimburse the US for his wall. But Congress would have to approve funding for the structure, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars.

Building a 2,000 mile (3,200km) barrier along the Mexican border was one of Mr Trump’s key pledges in the election campaign. He spoke of a “crisis” on the southern US border as he signed the directives during a ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday.

The orders also called for hiring 10,000 immigration officials to help boost border patrol efforts.

“A nation without borders is not a nation,” he said. “Beginning today the United States gets back control of its borders.”

The executive orders are among a flurry expected on national and border security this week. Mr Trump is next expected to announce immigration restrictions from seven countries with Muslim-majority populations in the Middle East and Africa. This could affect refugee programmes.

These countries are believed to be Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.