Wall dispute: Peña Nieto scraps meeting; Trump says Mexico will pay somehow

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Jan. 26, 2017 at 4:52 PM
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Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Thursday he has canceled his planned trip to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with Donald Trump after the U.S. president's insistence that Mexico cover the cost of a new border wall.

"This morning he has informed the White House that he will not participate in the working meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the president of the United States," a post on Peña Nieto's Twitter page said. "Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach agreements on behalf of the nations."

Peña Nieto on Wednesday said he "regrets and disapproves" of Trump's proposed wall, reiterating that Mexico will not pay for it -- a declaration he's made for months.

Following Peña Nieto's comment, Trump tweeted early Thursday that "If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting."

Later Thursday, Trump said Mexico will pay for the wall one way or another.

"We're working on a tax reform bill that will reduce our trade deficits, increase American exports and will generate revenue from Mexico that will pay for the wall, if we decide to go that route," he told top Republican officials in Philadelphia on Thursday.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the tax reform bill could involve a 20 percent tariff on imports from countries where the United States has a deficit.

"We can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone," the press secretary said. "That's really going to provide the funding."

"The U.S. has a $60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers ... of jobs and companies lost," Trump added in another tweet Thursday.

Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that directs federal agencies to prepare for construction of a "large physical barrier on the southern border."

During an MSNBC interview, House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said the United States will likely fund Trump's border wall with a supplemental bill prior to making Mexico "pay for it."

During a press conference with Ryan Thursday morning in Philadelphia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion to construct.

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