Trump and Mexico’s New Leader, Both Headstrong, Begin With a ‘Good Conversation’

Trump and Mexico’s New Leader, Both Headstrong, Begin With a ‘Good Conversation’


Enrique Peña Nieto, the outgoing Mexican president, has objected to the construction of a wall — and insisted that Mexico would not pay for one if it was built — but repeatedly tried to avoid messy diplomatic confrontations with his American counterpart. Mr. López Obrador is sure to be less restrained. In a speech last year, he railed against Mr. Trump’s government.

“When they want to build a wall to segregate populations, or when the word ‘foreigner’ is used to insult, denigrate and discriminate against our fellow human beings, it goes against humanity, it goes against intelligence and against history,” Mr. López Obrador said.

“López Obrador’s initial reaction will be to try to find a way to work with Trump rather than attacking Trump,” said Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican diplomat who served in the United States and China. “If there’s a chill cast on the relationship, it will be on Trump. If he does, López Obrador will easily run away from the United States.”

Diplomatic and financial relations between Mexico and the United States run deep, and the two have quietly continued to work closely together on a range of matters critical to their mutual well-being, including security, trade and migration. That is expected to continue despite the seismic shift in Mexican leadership.

Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister, was also optimistic about the ongoing negotiations on Nafta on Friday, saying that talks would “really be moving into high gear” now that the Mexican election was concluded.

But with major obstacles remaining and no time left for the sitting Congress to pass a deal, trade experts say negotiations seem likely to drag into 2019. In an interview broadcast Sunday on Fox News, Mr. Trump said he wanted to wait to conclude the deal until after the midterm elections.

“I could sign it tomorrow, but I’m not happy with it,” Mr. Trump said. “I want to make it more fair, O.K.?”



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