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Mexican president to meet Trump to set ‘new phase’ in ties

Pena Nieto said he had congratulated Trump for his election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton during a “cordial, friendly and respectful” phone conversation.

us presidential election Updated: Nov 10, 2016 04:09 IST
AFP
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto arrive for a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City on August 31, 2016.
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto arrive for a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City on August 31, 2016.(REUTERS)

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto reached out to US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, agreeing to meet with the Republican billionaire whose anti-immigrant rhetoric has infuriated Mexicans.

Pena Nieto said he had congratulated Trump for his election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton during a “cordial, friendly and respectful” phone conversation.

“I agreed with the president-elect to meet, preferably during the transition period, to define with clarity the direction that the relationship between both countries should take,” he said from his official residence.

“I am optimistic. It’s clear that a new phase in relations opens with the arrival of a new government, but I also think that there is a great opportunity” for the development of both countries, Pena Nieto said.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two men did not talk about Trump’s pledge to force Mexico to pay billions of dollars for a giant border wall.

But Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu reiterated earlier to the Televisa network that “paying for a wall is not part of our vision.”

Pena Nieto had told Trump during a controversial visit by the candidate in August that Mexico would never pay for the wall.

That previous visit had angered Mexicans, who slammed Pena Nieto for inviting a man who described migrants from their country as rapists and drug dealers.

Read | Nieto tells Trump: Build the wall on your own if you want, Mexico won’t pay

Trump has also unnerved markets by vowing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He also pledged to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and threatened to freeze billions in remittances that migrants send to their families back home.

After the election, Mexico’s currency fell 7.18% to 20.20 pesos per dollar, while the Mexican stock market tumbled 2.2%.

But Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said the government did not need to take “premature actions” as the country’s economy was robust enough to cope with the market upheaval.

“Mexico has lived through challenges of volatility in the past that we faced with unity, seizing on our economic strength and taking correct and prudent policy decisions, and this won’t be an exception,” Meade said at the National Palace.

Meade noted that the election would have no immediate impact on trade, financial flows or people’s ability to travel. Mexico, he added, has tame inflation, controls deep international reserves totaling $175.1 billion and enjoys macroeconomic stability.

Read | Mexico President’s close aide resigns after Trump visit