Washington, United States, Feb 25 – Mexico and the United States have shelved tentative plans for a visit to Washington by President Enrique Pena Nieto as tensions persist over a proposed border wall, US media reported Saturday.
Pena Nieto had already cancelled a visit in January last year because of US President Donald Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall, which he wants as part of his efforts to curb immigration.
The White House had said in mid-February that the two presidents were working on arranging a meeting.
But The Washington Post, which first reported cancellation of the provisional meeting, said both countries agreed to call it off after a testy telephone call ended in an impasse over the border barrier.
The phone call took place last Tuesday.
Citing US and Mexican officials, the Post said Trump “would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive.”
Pena Nieto’s visit had been considered for February or March, the Post said, but the Mexican leader wanted to avoid public embarrassment.
Building the border wall was a primary pledge of the 2016 presidential campaign by Trump, who says the barrier is necessary for his country’s security.
Asked about the reports, a Mexican presidential source told AFP there would be no comment.
“There’s nothing additional to the last Tuesday statement,” the source said, referring to comments after the phone call.
Both countries said at the time that they agreed in their call to boost cooperation on security, trade and migration.
In addition to disagreement over the wall, Trump’s attacks on Mexican immigrants and threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement have strained relations between the neighbors.
The leaders did meet once, on the sidelines of the G20 summit of major economies in Hamburg, Germany, last July.
Mexico goes to the polls this July as Pena Nieto approaches the end of his term, with his Institutional Revolutionary Party deeply unpopular.