Taking a break from his aggressive election campaigning, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday flew down to Mexico to meet that country’s President Enrique Peña Nieto upon the latter’s invitation.
In perhaps the first show of his diplomatic side, Trump called the Mexican President as a “friend” and termed the meeting a “great honour”. Trump said millions of Mexicans are legally employed in the US and that he himself has employed many Mexicans. He repeatedly termed Mexicans “amazing and wonderful people”.
Trump said he and the Mexican President discussed major issues of concern between the two countries such as border security and immigration policies. He said both sides agreed that these issues need to be effectively resolved soon. He also said NAFTA or North American Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in 1994, would need to be “improved” to reflect the current trade realities such as rising competition from China. He said this was required to keep manufacturing wealth within the American hemisphere.
On the contentious issue of building a wall on the border with Mexico, Trump said the topic was not discussed as this was a warm-up meeting. Speaking to a reporter’s question on this, Trump extolled the virtues of a physical separation of border to stop “illegal movement of people, drugs and arms”.
He said both the US and Mexico would work together to make a more robust and secure border.
On his part, the Mexican President termed the ties between Mexico and America as mutually beneficial. He also explained his country’s contribution to the US economy. He said six million US jobs are dependent on exports to Mexico. He also said some of Trump’s comments against illegal Mexican immigrants were hurtful but welcomed Trump’s interest in building relations between the two countries.
During his no-holds-barred campaign, Trump had called for a wall to be built on the US-Mexican border to stop illegal migration. He had also termed illegal migrants “rapists and murderers”. But he seems to have made up for it by his dignified, ‘Presidential’ conduct during the meeting with Mexican president as well as the joint press meet thereafter.