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Stop saying you won’t pay for wall: Trump to Pena Nieto

US President Donald Trump acknowledged the domestic political difficulties of the issue for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and said a “formula” could be worked out for funding the wall along the southern US border with Mexico.

world Updated: Aug 03, 2017 23:43 IST
This file photo taken on July 7, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto holding a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
This file photo taken on July 7, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto holding a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. (AFP File Photo)

US President Donald Trump pressed Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to stop saying publicly that Mexico would not pay for his promised border wall, according to a transcript of their January conversation obtained by The Washington Post.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump told Pena Nieto according to the transcript of the January 27 call published by the Post on Thursday.

“I have to have Mexico pay for the wall -- I have to,” Trump said. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”

The US president acknowledged the domestic political difficulties of the issue for Pena Nieto and said a “formula” could be worked out for funding the wall along the southern US border with Mexico.

“We should both say, ‘We will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump said. “As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay,’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.’“

“(But) if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that,” Trump said.

This file photo taken on February 21, 2017 shows a US Border Patrol agent as he locks a gate on the border fence at the US/Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas. (AFP Photo)

Pena Nieto pushed back saying the issue was “related to the dignity of Mexico and goes to the national pride of my country.

“My position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall,” he said.

But the Mexican president agreed to “stop talking about the wall” and “look for a creative way to solve this issue.”

Turnbull to Trump: ‘A deal is a deal’

The Post also published the full transcript on Thursday of an acrimonious call Trump held the next day with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In the call, Trump, who campaigned for the White House by taking a hardline on immigration, expressed his displeasure over a deal made by the Obama administration to accept refugees held in Australian detention centers.

“This is going to kill me,” Trump said. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country and now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”

Turnbull repeatedly pressed Trump to stand by the agreement and noted they were economic refugees who would only be accepted after strict US vetting.

“There is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal,” Turnbull said. “You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.”

“I have had it,” Trump said finally said after more back and forth on the issue. “I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

“Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to his conversation with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “This is ridiculous.”

The extraordinary leak of the contents of presidential conversations comes just a day before Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly to hold a press conference about cracking down on government leaks.