Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said that his country will not pay for Donald Trump’s border wall.
In a message to the nation, Enrique Pena Nieto said he “lamented” the plans for the barrier, adding that “Mexico doesn’t believe in walls”.
However, he made no mention of cancelling or postponing a trip to Washington on January 31 to meet President Donald Trump.
President Trump has signed an executive order for an “impassable physical barrier” and has insisted Mexico will reimburse the US for it.
Enrique Pena Nieto told the nation in a televised address: “I’ve said time and again; Mexico won’t pay for any wall.
“I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us.”
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray – in Washington to lead a delegation that has held talks at the White House – told the Televisa network the president was still weighing January 31 visit but said “the meeting stands for now”.
Enrique Pena Nieto met Donald Trump – then a presidential candidate – in Mexico City in September and came under intense criticism at home and his current approval ratings are low.
Donald Trump said in an interview with ABC News that Mexico would “absolutely, 100%” reimburse the US for his wall.
However, Congress would have to approve funding for the structure, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars.
Building a 2,000 mile barrier along the Mexican border was one of Donald Trump’s key pledges in the election campaign.
The president spoke of a “crisis” on the southern US border as he signed the directives during a ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security on January 25.
The orders also called for hiring 10,000 immigration officials to help boost border patrol efforts.
“A nation without borders is not a nation,” Donald Trump said.
“Beginning today the United States gets back control of its borders.”
The executive orders are among a flurry expected on national and border security this week.
Donald Trump is next expected to announce immigration restrictions from seven countries with Muslim-majority populations in the Middle East and Africa. This could affect refugee programs.
These countries are believed to be Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.