Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday he had canceled plans to meet President Donald Trump next week at the White House.
The decision comes after the U.S. president tweeted Mexico should cancel the meeting if it was not prepared to pay for his proposed border wall.
of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
“This morning we informed the White House that I will not attend the work meeting planned for next Tuesday with the POTUS,” Pena Nieto tweeted in Spanish to his followers, referring to Trump.
Esta mañana hemos informado a la Casa Blanca que no asistiré a la reunión de trabajo programada para el próximo martes con el @POTUS.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) January 26, 2017
“Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach accords that favor both nations,” Pena Nieto continued.
Asked about the cancellation, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “We’ll look for a date to schedule something in the future. We will keep the lines of communication open.”
As recently as Wednesday night, Pena Nieto had said that he did not see a need to cancel, but he strongly reiterated that he would not fund any border wall.
“Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said time again, Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said in a video statement posted to Twitter.
The back and forth regarding the wall has been ongoing between Trump and Mexican leaders, including the current President Pena Nieto and former President Vicente Fox, with the latter using much stronger language against Trump and his plan.
Tensions have escalated since Trump’s swearing in, particularly on Wednesday, when Trump took executive action to begin the process of erecting a wall.
The President announced the move while a high level Mexican delegation was visiting the White House, the first foreign representatives to come since Trump took office last week. The Mexican delegation was conducting meetings with top U.S. officials, including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and adviser Jared Kushner.
In his video, the Mexican President also said that he had ordered his government agencies to step up protection for immigrants. “I’ve asked for the minister of Foreign Relations to re-enforce protection measures to our citizens,” he said, adding that the 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S. — which are more than any other country has — will be used to defend the rights of immigrants in the country and issued a call to action to legislators and civil organizations to help immigrants.
Pena Nieto finished his message by saying that Mexico offers and expects respect. “Mexico offers its friendship to the people of the United States and expresses its wish to arrive at agreements with its government, deals that will be in favor of Mexico and the Mexicans,” he said.