Mexico president cancels meeting with Trump over border wall

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto arrive for a press conference at the Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City on Wednesday, August 30, 2016. (Photo Reuters)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has canceled a scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump after the new American leader urged his Mexican counterpart to scrap the meeting unless Mexico is willing to fund construction of a border wall.

Peña Nieto announced he was cancelling his visit to Washington on Thursday, deepening a spat that threatens US-Mexican political and trade ties.

"We have informed the White House that I will not attend the working meeting planned for next Tuesday with @POTUS," Pena Nieto tweeted. "Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach agreements that favor both nations."

Trump said in a Twitter message earlier on Thursday that Peña Nieto should cancel his planned visit to the White House if Mexico refuses to pay for the wall that he has ordered to be constructed along the border.

Trump, who took office last Friday, signed an executive order on Wednesday to build a wall along the Mexican border.

"If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting," Trump said in his Twitter message.

Building a wall on the US-Mexico border to stop the influx of refugees and undocumented migrants coming from Central and Latin America was a hallmark of Trump's presidential campaign.

During his campaign, Trump characterized Mexican migrants living in the US as murderers and rapists and pledged to build a wall that he said Mexico would pay for.

Peña Nieto was facing increasing domestic criticism for failing to come up with a decisive strategy to combat Trump’s hostile policies, and was under sustained pressure to cancel the meeting.

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