MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled his meeting with President Donald Trump that had been set for Tuesday after renewed tensions over Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border.
The move came after Trump tweeted that “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting” in Washington.
“This morning we have informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the POTUS,” Pena Nieto tweeted.
On Wednesday, Trump signed executive orders ordering the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, boosting border patrol forces and increasing the number of immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations.
He again vowed that Mexico would pay for it, but Nieto said his country “will not pay for any wall.”
“Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said in a video statement posted to Twitter.
Trump’s style appeared to catch Mexico’s diplomacy off-guard.
Finance Secretary Jose Antonio Meade told Grupo Formula radio that “I think that, in general, diplomacy is not conducted via Twitter.”
“The foreign relations secretary is involved up there, having meetings up there, and we’ll have to see what comes out of that, what report they send to the president and what conclusions they arrive at from all that,” Meade said.
The back-and-forth between the two leaders — which began last year during the very first days of the Trump campaign when he called some Mexicans entering the U.S. criminals and rapists and tensions lingered throughout the campaign.
They escalated over the last 24 hours when Trump took the executive action to begin the process of erecting a wall.