— CNN (@CNN) August 31, 2016
Oh, to be a surveillance camera for the surprise meeting between Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The Republican nominee made a seemingly impromptu Mexico visit, which serves as a warm-up to his big immigration speech in Arizona. Trump also left his own press detail in Arizona so that he could meet with Nieto in private. Certainly, there was loads of speculation about what these two would discuss — would the deeply unpopular Nieto agree to pay for the Wall or tell Trump where to stick it? And former President Vicente Fox raged against the visit and said neither he nor the people of Mexico would welcome their visitor.
Trump and Nieto held a meeting behind closed doors and a short joint press event. This wasn’t expected to be a friendly affair, but the two men kept things all business while speaking at their podiums. Nieto spoke briskly of his desire for “mutual respect,” and he expressed hopes to soon meet with Hillary Clinton. From there, Nieto alluded to how the two countries “Share the most traveled border, which every day, legally, more than a million people cross it.” He emphasized trade relations, and his message was that the U.S. needs Mexico. Nieto also delivered the following statement: “[The Mexican people are] honest people, working people, people that respect family and respect live in the community, and they respect the law.”
Trump then took his moment to speak of how honored he felt to be in Mexico. He said the private meeting was a “very substantive, direct exchange of ideas for quite a period of time.” Trump admitted to being “straightforward in presenting my views on current trade and immigration policies.” He then shifted to discussing the border and the contributions of the Mexican people, who he respects and is “proud to say how many I employ.” But he emphasized how “no one wins” when it comes to drug imports and cartels. He also articulated his “strong view” that NAFTA benefits Mexico more than the United States. Trump concluded by saying to Nieto, “I call you a friend.”
At that point, Trump took a few questions. He relayed that this was only a preliminary meeting, which went well. However, while Trump says he and Nieto did discuss the Wall, they did not discuss who will pay for the Wall, which will be a subject of a later meeting. And by that very omission, this measured press talk will spawn even more speculation. Of course, tonight’s immigration speech may very well feature lots of Wall (and mass deportation) discussion, so that’s one to watch.
You can watch the full joint press event below.