Mexico's top diplomat says talks with Trump administration to continue despite border wall spat

Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray attends a news conference after a meeting about foreign affairs at the Senate of the Republic building in Mexico City.
Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray attends a news conference after a meeting about foreign affairs at the Senate of the Republic building in Mexico City. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Mexico's top diplomat said talks with the Trump administration will continue and expressed confidence that they can still reach "very good agreements" despite the insistence by the US that the Latin American country pay for a border wall.

"We are a proud nation," Foreign Relations Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters at the Mexican Embassy in Washington after finishing a second day of meetings at the White House. "We simply cannot accept the concept of a neighbour paying for your own wall. There are things that go beyond negotiation; this is about our dignity."

Asked about Mr Trump's proposal, outlined by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, for a 20 per cent border tax, Mr Videgaray said it would make products in the US more expensive, hitting American families.

Mr Videgaray said he was in the midst of "a good conversation" with Trump advisers on Thursday (Jan 26) morning when he learned about the Twitter posts that would lead President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel his planned visit to Washington.

After Mr Pena Nieto said in an address on Wednesday (Jan 25) night that his country would refuse to pay for a barrier on the US southern border, Mr Trump blasted him with a tweet on Thursday morning. "If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting," Mr Trump wrote.

Mr Pena Nieto insisted that if paying for a wall along the almost 3,218km border was a condition for the meeting, then he wouldn't go, the minister told reporters.

"This morning we've informed the White House that I won't attend the working meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with @Potus," Mr Pena Nieto responded a few hours later with his own tweet.

"We have a rich agenda with a lot in common and working together," Mr Videgaray said. "That's something we shouldn't lose sight of even on days as complicated as today," without providing details on when a next meeting might take place.