HAMBURG, Germany – In his first meeting as president with his Mexican counterpart, Donald Trump on Friday said that he “absolutely” intends for Mexico to pay for the controversial wall he wants to build along the southern U.S. border.
Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit here, amid sharp disagreements over trade and immigration. Some officials had hoped that the brief encounter could help heal badly soured relations.
The proposed wall continues to make that difficult.
A reporter asked Trump if he still wants Mexico to pay for the wall. “Absolutely,” he said.
Mexico has repeatedly said that it will not pay for a new barrier. Despite Trump’s statement, his administration has asked Congress for money to pay for building portions of a wall, a request met with a chilly reception on Capitol Hill.
Homeland Security Department officials have made clear that the administration does not intend to build a wall along the full length of the border, as Trump often has described it.
In January, Peña Nieto canceled a scheduled first meeting when Trump threatened to impose a tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall.
In a prepared statement, Trump referred to Peña Nieto as a “friend” and said he was negotiating changes in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico has said that it is willing to renegotiate.
Peña Nieto said the meeting will help the two countries continue a “flowing dialogue” especially on border security.