Is the Mexican president looking to salvage something from yesterday’s dramatic diplomatic devastation?
According to AP, shortly before his meeting with Theresa May, President Donald Trump spent one hour talking on the phone to the president of Mexico, Pena Nieto, amid “rising tensions” over Trump’s proposed wall along the border. Two administration officials confirmed Friday’s call.
Trump and Pena Nieto had been expected to meet in Washington next week, but the Mexican president abruptly canceled his visit on Thursday. His decision came after Trump moved forward with plans to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and have Mexico pay for construction. Following the cancellation, Trump’s spokesman said the White House would seek to pay for the border wall by slapping a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico, as well as on other countries the U.S. has a trade deficit with. The White House later cast the proposal as just one option to pay for the wall.
The strong reaction from Mexico signaled a remarkable souring of relations between Washington and one of its most important international partners just days into the new administration. The U.S. and Mexico conduct some $1.6 billion a day in cross-border trade, and cooperate on everything from migration to drug enforcement to major environmental issues.
Following his imminent press conference with Theresa May, later in the day, the president is expected to travel to the Pentagon, where he was expected to sign a trio of executive actions, including one to halve the flow of refugees into the United Sates and stop all entries from some majority-Muslim nations. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump also intended to sign actions related to military readiness and the National Security Council. Details of those directives were not immediately clear.
According to a draft of the refugee order obtained by The Associated Press, Trump would move to indefinitely stop accepting Syrian refugees. The order also calls for a pause in the nation’s broader refugee program for at least 120 days. While at the Pentagon, Trump was expected to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and attend a ceremonial swearing-in for Defense Secretary James Mattis.