PHILADELPHIA — President Trump said Thursday that he and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto mutually agreed to call off their meeting scheduled for next week in Washington, making the claim within hours of Mr. Pena Nieto announcing that he wasn’t coming.
The meeting derailed over Mr. Trump signing orders Wednesday to begin building a Wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his insistence that Mexico would pay for it, which Mexican official took as an insult.
“Have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week,” Mr. Trump told House and Senate Republicans at a strategy retreat in Philadelphia. “Such a meeting would be fruitless.”
“There will be a wall,” said Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump said that Americans needed a president who would stand up for them the way presidents in other countries stand up for their citizens.
“The world has taken advantage of us for many years. It’s not going to happen anymore,” said Mr. Trump.
Under pressure from Mexican lawmakers to back out of the meeting, Mr. Pena Nieto said that he remains firm in his refusal to pay for the wall.
Early Thursday morning Mr. Trump said that if Mexico was unwilling to talk about paying for the wall, then Mr. Pena Nieto should follow through on his threat to cancel the meeting.
Mr. Pena Nieto later said on Twitter that the meeting was off.
Brushing aside the run-in with Mr. Pena Nieto, the president said that he also planned to make good on his promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he has labeled a “bad deal” that shipped U.S. manufacturing jobs south of the border.
“I made clear to the government of Mexico that NAFTA has been a terrible deal, a total disaster for the United States from the inception,” he said. “It’s costing us as much as $60 billion a year from Mexico alone in a trade deficit.”
“You say, ‘Who negotiates these deals?’” he asked.
He said that Americans have known for years that NAFTA was a bad deal that needed to be renegotiated “except the politicians were too preoccupied to do so.” He then said that didn’t apply to the politicians gathered in the room.
“Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice,” said Mr. Trump.