Mexico, US deny Trump threatened to send troops across border

People gathering at a beach-side park next to a section of the US-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan 26, 2017.
People gathering at a beach-side park next to a section of the US-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan 26, 2017.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - The Mexican and US governments denied on Wednesday (Feb 1) a report that US President Donald Trump told Mexico's leader that he may deploy US troops to deal with drug cartels because Mexican soldiers are doing a bad job.

Mexican journalist Dolia Estevez, citing "confidential" US and Mexican sources, said Trump made the threat during an hour-long phone call with President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday.

Mr Trump told Mr Pena Nieto that "maybe" he should send US troops to defeat the cartels because "Mexican soldiers are not doing their job well", according to the report published by the website proyectopuente.com.mx.

But Mexican and White House officials vehemently denied the report.

"It's a lie of the size of its bad faith," Mr Pena Nieto's spokesman, Mr Eduardo Sanchez, told AFP.

The White House also denied to AFP that Mr Trump threatened to send troops to Mexico.

If confirmed, the report would contradict the tone of the conversation that was reported in near identical statements issued by the two governments last Friday.

The statements both described the phone call as "constructive and productive", while Mr Trump told a news conference that it was "very friendly".

The phone call came as bilateral relations plunged into the biggest diplomatic crisis between the two neighbours in decades.

Mr Trump angered Mexicans last week by ordering the construction of a massive border wall and vowing to make their country pay for the wall.

Mr Pena Nieto has pledged that his government will never pay for the barrier and he cancelled a meeting with Mr Trump scheduled for this week in Washington.

In Friday's statements, both sides said the presidents recognised their public differences over the wall but that they instructed their teams to continue the dialogue between the two governments.

In addition to the row over the wall, Mr Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Canada and Mexico.

Mexican officials expect talks to begin in May.