Mexican President Pena Nieto to meet Donald Trump to set 'new phase' in ties

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Wednesday that he spoke to US President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his election win.
Mr Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto meeting in Mexico City on Aug 31, 2016.
Mr Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto meeting in Mexico City on Aug 31, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto reached out to US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday (Nov 9), agreeing to meet the Republican billionaire whose anti-immigrant rhetoric has infuriated Mexicans.

Mr Pena Nieto said he had congratulated Mr Trump for his election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton during a "cordial, friendly and respectful" phone conversation.

"I agreed with the President-elect to meet, preferably during the transition period, to define with clarity the direction that the relationship between both countries should take," he said from his official residence.

"I am optimistic. It's clear that a new phase in relations opens with the arrival of a new government, but I also think that there is a great opportunity" for the development of both countries, Mr Pena Nieto said.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two men did not talk about Mr Trump's pledge to force Mexico to pay billions of dollars for a giant border wall.

But Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu reiterated earlier to the Televisa network that "paying for a wall is not part of our vision".

Mr Pena Nieto told Mr Trump during a controversial visit by the candidate in August that Mexico would never pay for the wall.

That previous visit angered Mexicans, who slammed Mr Pena Nieto for inviting a man who described migrants from their country as rapists and drug dealers.

Mr Trump has also unnerved markets by vowing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

He also pledged to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and threatened to freeze billions in remittances that migrants send to their families back home.

After the election, Mexico's currency fell 7.18 per cent to 20.20 pesos per US dollar, while the Mexican stock market tumbled 2.2 per cent.

But Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said the government did not need to take "premature actions" as the country's economy was robust enough to cope with the market upheaval.

"Mexico has lived through challenges of volatility in the past that we faced with unity, seizing on our economic strength and taking correct and prudent policy decisions, and this won't be an exception," Mr Meade said at the National Palace.

Mr Meade noted that the election would have no immediate impact on trade, financial flows or people's ability to travel. Mexico, he added, has tame inflation, controls deep international reserves totalling US$175.1 billion (S$245 billion) and enjoys macroeconomic stability.