Donald Trump has protected the right of the US to build a massive wall along its southern border during his first visit to Mexico as the Republican presidential candidate, and set off a fresh controversy over who will foot the bill for it that could cost billions of dollars.
Trump has constantly berated Mexico during his election campaign, terming migrants from the country as “rapists” and “murderers” and vowed to build a wall on the US’ southern border to prevent millions of illegal migrants entering the country, angering Mexicans.
Donald Trump flit into a nation he has constantly berated during his campaign to meet President Enrique Pena Nieto and said they discussed a wall Trump has vowed to build on the US southern border, but not his demand that Mexico pay for it, an assertion the Mexican president later disputed.
“Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss,” Trump had said when asked by a reporter during a news conference following their meeting in Mexico City. “We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.”
But Pena Nieto later claimed the two had discussed the wall and who would pay for it and he had “made it clear” to Trump it wouldn’t be Mexico.
“At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Pena Nieto tweeted, after their meeting Wednesday.
The 70-year-old real estate baron argued that having a secure border is a sovereign right and is mutually beneficial for both countries.
“We recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders to stop the illegal movement of people, drugs and weapons. Cooperation toward achieving the shared objective to both the United States and to Mexico,” he said.
Pena Nieto, who in the past has compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, said Mexicans had been hurt by some of the Republican’s comments but said he believed he now genuinely wanted to build relations.
“That there has been a misinterpretation or assertions that regrettably had hurt and has affected Mexicans and it’s perception of his candidacy of which I am fully respectful,” Pena Nieto said.
“Mexican people have felt hurt by the comments that have been made. But I am sure that his genuine interest is to build a relationship that will give both of our society’s better welfare,” he said.
Trump has said the wall could cost USD 8 billion to USD 12 billion, be made of precast concrete, and rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher.
He has said the wall doesn’t need to run the nearly 2,000 miles of the border, but half of that because of natural barriers.