President Enrique Pena Nieto levied heavy criticisms at Donald Trump following the Republican nominee’s visit to Mexico Wednesday, calling some of his policies a “risk” that “must be confronted.”
“His policy stances could represent a huge threat to Mexico, and I am not prepared to keep my arms crossed and do nothing,” Pena Nieto said in a television interview late Wednesday evening, according to a Reuters report. “That risk, that threat, must be confronted. I told him that is not the way to build a mutually beneficial relationship for both nations.”
Pena Nieto’s comments come after the two politicians gave differing accounts on whether the payment of a border wall -- one of Trump’s key immigration tenets -- was discussed in the course of their hour-long meeting in Mexico.
At a news conference immediately following the closed-door session, Trump told reporters: “We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall -- that will be at a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting. It was an excellent meeting.”
Later, at Trump’s speech on immigration at a Phoenix, Arizona rally, the GOP nominee again promised that Mexico would pick up the tab for the border wall -- “100 percent.”
“They don’t know it yet, but they are going to pay for the wall,” Trump told a boisterous crowd Wednesday evening.
But Pena Nieto, facing mounting disapproval from Mexican citizens over his invitation Trump, painted a different picture of their meeting.
In tweets, the Mexican president said this in a tweet in Spanish: “At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.”
A Mexican government official with knowledge of the meeting also dismissed any charge that Pena Nieto’s message was lost in translation.
According to Reuters, the official said the Mexican president spoke English during their time together and that Pena Nieto had clearly told Trump about the offense his comments had caused the Mexican people.
Trump tweeted again Thursday morning that Mexico is picking up the tab for the wall.
In another address Thursday morning -- this time to the American Legion for their annual conference in Cincinnati, Ohio -- Trump once again reiterated that he had a “wonderful meeting” with the Mexican president, where he “thanked him for the tremendous contributions of Mexican Americans in our country.”
“You know how good they are,” Trump said. “I want to again thank him for his gracious hospitality, express my belief that we can work together to achieve great things for both countries, that’s Mexico and the United States.”
“We agreed in the meeting on the need to stop the illegal flow of guns, drugs, cash and people across the border and to take out the cartels -- have to get rid of those cartels and we have to do it quickly,” Trump continued. “Our country is being poisoned.”
Trump did not, however, directly respond to Pena Nieto’s claims about the border wall.