Mexico leader lays out points for talks with Trump

January 24, 2017
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto holds a press conference at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Pena Nieto said Monday that Mexico's attitude towards the Donald Trump administration should not be aggressive or biased, but one of dialogue. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday his government is prepared to negotiate with U.S. President Donald Trump if Mexico’s national sovereignty is respected.

Pena Nieto gave a speech detailing what Mexico’s baseline negotiating points would be, including economic integration, respect for the rights of migrants and the money they send home.

Those remittances amount to about $25 billion annually and have become a major source of foreign revenue for the country. Trump had originally suggested that the U.S. might retain some of that money to help pay for a wall between the countries, a project he says Mexico will pay for but which Mexico opposes.

Pena Nieto sought to chart a middle course.

“Neither confrontation nor submission. Dialogue is the solution,” he said.

Pena Nieto said over the weekend that he has talked with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the North American Free Trade Agreement ahead of a planned Jan. 31 meeting with Trump.

Trump has pledged to renegotiate the three-nation trade agreement and slap tariffs on imports.

Pena Nieto’s office said that during Sunday’s conversation, Trudeau and the Mexican president “spoke about the importance of the United States for both countries, and agreed to join forces to continue promoting the economic integration of North America.”

Trump announced Monday that he’s set up meetings with Trudeau and Pena Nieto, saying “We’re going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA.”

Mexico’s manufacturing sector has benefited from NAFTA, but Trump claims it has displaced U.S. jobs.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump “has already spoken to both the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada about his desire to renegotiate, and as he meets with both of these individuals over the next 30 days or so, that is going to be a topic.”

“If they come in and express their willingness to do that, you could negotiate it in the current parameters and update it through the existing structure,” Spicer said. “If they don’t, and decide to pull out, we will have to go back to the drawing table in the future.”

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