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  1. Florida Politics

Trump, in meeting with Mexican president, again insists Mexico will pay for the wall

Mexican President Enrique Pe?a Nieto
Mexican President Enrique Pe?a Nieto
Published Jul. 8, 2017

HAMBURG, Germany — In his first meeting as president with his Mexican counterpart, Donald Trump on Friday said he "absolutely" intends for Mexico to pay for the controversial wall he wants to build along the United States' southern border, setting off a furor in Mexico over a goal his own administration has largely abandoned.

Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, amid sharp disagreements over trade and immigration. Some officials had hoped the brief encounter could help heal badly strained relations between the two neighbors.

The proposed wall continues to make that difficult.

As journalists were allowed in to see the two leaders take their seats, one reporter asked Trump if he still wanted Mexico to pay for the wall.

"Absolutely," Trump said.

Mexico has repeatedly said it will not pay for a new border barrier, and Trump's words set off a furious reaction in Mexico City.

Mexican officials, however, decided to ignore the remark, at least publicly.

Peña Nieto didn't hear Trump's exchange with the reporter, and there was no further discussion of the wall in the private talks that followed, Mexican officials said.

The wall "was not part of the conversation," Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said in a news conference here. "That's what we had agreed to, and that's how it was."

Whether Peña Nieto and his delegation really didn't hear the comment, Mexican officials were privately angry that Trump responded the way he did. The president easily could have ignored the question, one Mexican official said. A little more than an hour after the meeting with the Mexican delegation, Trump ignored reporters' questions at the opening of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump's statement was consistent with the campaign rhetoric, but not with what his administration actually has done. In March, the administration asked Congress for $4.1 billion to begin construction on additional border fencing and walls, conceding that Mexico would not be paying for it.

"It's coming out of the Treasury," Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters when asked who would pay for the wall. So far, that request has met with a chilly reception on Capitol Hill.

Homeland Security Department officials have made clear that the administration doesn't intend to build a wall along the full length of the border, the way Trump often has described it. There are already about 600 miles of wall, fencing or other blocking constructions along the 2,000-mile border, which traverses rivers, desert and hilly terrain.

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