US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he will meet the Mexican president hours before his highly anticipated speech on immigration in Arizona.
Last Friday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto invited both Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to visit Mexico, according to a statement by his office provided to The Washington Post.
According to the people familiar with the discussions, Trump took up Pena Nieto’s invitation over the weekend and will meet him on Wednesday.
“I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
His message came shortly after Pena Nieto’s office tweeted that “El Senor” Trump accepted the invitation and will privately meet the president.
The business mogul, who has taken a hardline stance on immigration, is scheduled to deliver a speech Wednesday night in Phoenix, in which he will clarify his position on the issue.
Trump has called Mexican illegal immigrants rapists and criminals and vowed to deport some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows in the United States.
He has also threatened to undo the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal signed by the US, Canada and Mexico to create a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
In addition, Trump pledged to build a wall along the Southern border to prevent more Mexicans from entering the US illegally and has repeatedly promised to force Mexico to cover the cost of the construction of his proposed wall.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (AFP photo)
Pena Nieto and other Mexican officials have, however, dismissed the proposal as ludicrous, with the Mexican president likening Trump’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
“There is no way that Mexico can pay [for] a wall like that,” Pena Nieto said in an interview with CNN in July, adding that he opposed Trump’s frequent characterization of illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists and killers.
His proposal of the construction of a 2,000-mile wall on the US-Mexico border has been met with strong criticism both at home and abroad.
“Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders and blame our challenges on immigrants, that does not just run counter to our history as the world’s melting pot, it contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe,” President Barack Obama said in May.