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Trump And Mexican President Pledge To Settle Differences

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Well, let's just say that President Trump and the president of Mexico have agreed to disagree. Yesterday, they held what was called a constructive and productive hour-long phone call after spending much of the week spatting over President Trump's proposed border wall and his insistence that Mexico pay for it. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports that the Mexican president's popularity took a hit over his handling of the crisis, but he got a boost from Mexico's richest man.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Both presidents issued a joint statement shortly after yesterday's call. They both acknowledge their clear and very public differences about paying for a border wall, and both agreed to resolve those differences as part of a comprehensive discussion. Pena Nieto's statement also included this sentence (reading) for now, both presidents agree not to publicly talk about this controversial issue.

That line was missing from Trump's statement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people. I work with the Mexican people all the time - great relationships.

KAHN: Later in the day, Trump softened his tone regarding Mexico but vowed to renegotiate trade deals to the U.S.' favor.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: But the United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies and millions and millions of people losing their jobs. That won't happen with me. We're no longer going to be the country that doesn't know what it's doing

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARLOS SLIM: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "It's good they spoke by phone," said Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. In a rare press conference at his Mexico City headquarters, Slim said it is clear that the two presidents weren't going to negotiate anything over Twitter. Trump and Pena Nieto had been tweeting their disagreement over payment of the border wall during most of the week. Thursday, Pena Nieto canceled his visit, which was scheduled for next week in Washington. In his more than hour-long press conference, Slim urged Mexicans to unite around Pena Nieto, whose popularity has tanked greatly in part due to his dealings with Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SLIM: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Those proposals are absurd," says Slim, referring to Trump's insistence that Mexico pay for the wall and his proposal to tax Mexican exports to the U.S. by as much as 20 percent. Slim said the best wall the U.S. could build to keep immigrants out would be by investing and creating jobs in Mexico. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.
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