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Trump, Mexican President Peña Nieto Agree to End Public Tiff About Border Wall, Mexico Says

Trump, since taking office a week ago, has ratcheted up calls to build a wall along the nations' shared border — and force Mexico to foot the bill.
U.S. presidential nominee Trump and Mexico's President Pena Nieto finish a press conference in Mexico City
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto walk out after finishing a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City, Mexico, Aug. 31, 2016.REUTERS

President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart shared a "constructive and productive" phone call Friday morning, agreeing to put aside their public spat over the building of a border wall, Mexico's government said.

Without providing a clear resolution for how the two countries will mend the rift, the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto said the pair "acknowledged their clear and very public differences in position on this sensitive issue."

Trump, since taking office a week ago, has ratcheted up calls to throw up a wall along the nations' shared border — and force Mexico to foot the bill.

"The Presidents also agreed at this point not to speak publicly about this controversial issue," the Mexican government's statement said.

The White House released a similarly worded readout of the phone call, but did not include the Mexican government's assertion that Trump and Peña Nieto would remain mum about the border wall and how to pay for it.

At a news conference Friday afternoon with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump told reporters the phone call with Peña Nieto was "very, very friendly," appearing to try to smooth over a relationship that has grown increasingly tense this week.

"I think we have a very good relationship, the president and I," Trump said.

But Trump remained firm on protecting American interests, and reiterated that he would not allow the United States to be "out-negotiated" and have Mexico "beat us to a pulp" when it comes to trade deals. He also complained that the two nations' shared border is "soft and weak."

"We are going to be working on a fair relationship and a good relationship," Trump said of the U.S.'s ties with Mexico, without delving into the war of words prompted over Trump's desire to build a border wall.

The phone call was "mutually arranged" by both administrations, the White House said.

It came after Peña Nieto on Thursday nixed next week's scheduled meeting with Trump over his rhetoric. That prompted the White House to punch back — floating the possibility of a 20 percent tax on Mexican products imported into America.

Peña Nieto, who has been an otherwise unpopular figure in Mexico, used Twitter to say he was bowing out of next Tuesday's face-to-face with Trump.

Trump, in turn, blamed Mexico for the problems along the border while speaking at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia.

"Most illegal immigration is coming from our southern border," Trump said Thursday. "I’ve said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall, and I’ve made that clear to the government of Mexico."

Peña Nieto has said Mexico would not fork over any money for a wall, which could cost from $4 billion to $12 billion, according to some estimates.

Meanwhile, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said on Friday a united Mexico was ready to help the government negotiate with Trump and called on all political parties to support Peña Nieto in his discussions with the U.S. president.

In a rare news conference by the generally media-shy mogul, Slim said Mexico needed to negotiate from a position of strength, noting that Trump, who he called a "great negotiator," represented a major change in how politics is conducted.