Mexico President Peña Nieto: Decision to meet with Donald Trump "very rushed"

Peña Nieto's meeting with Trump was hugely controversial in Mexico and led to his finance minister's resignation

By Brendan Gauthier
October 25, 2016 5:31PM (UTC)
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Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shake hands after a joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Trump is calling his surprise visit to Mexico City Wednesday a 'great honor.' The Republican presidential nominee said after meeting with Pena Nieto that the pair had a substantive, direct and constructive exchange of ideas.(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

In an interview with La Razón published Tuesday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed regret for his August meeting with Donald Trump.

"It was very controversial and I accept that I took a decision," Peña Nieto said. "Maybe today it would be different, I think I took a very rushed decision."


Peña Nieto told Mexican TV station Canal 11 on Sunday that the meeting was "all about ensuring the best interests of Mexico, even if it could be very controversial, as it turned out to be," according to Reuters.

"Could we have done things better? Maybe yes, admittedly," he added. "I think that this genuine interest to bring about a meeting to take care of Mexico's interests, I think, could have been done in a better way."

Luis Videgaray, Peña Nieto's finance minister and close confidante, was forced to resign last month after it was revealed he'd pushed for the meeting with the Republican presidential nominee.


Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, refused a similar meeting with Peña Nieto, saying that she didn't want to visit Mexico before the election and instead "focus on what we’re doing to create jobs here at home, what we’re doing to make sure Americans have the best possible opportunities in the future."

In a July interview with Mexican newspaper Excelsior — after Trump repeatedly denigrated Latin American immigrants — Peña Nieto likened Trump's rhetoric to Hitler and Mussolini.

Despite harsh criticisms from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, however, Peña Nieto and Trump agreed to a closed-door meeting.


"We had a very substantive, direct, and constructive exchange of ideas over quite a period of time," Trump said in a joint press conference thereafter. "And I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican-Americans."

Just hours after his pseudo-diplomatic meeting with Peña Nieto, Trump crossed the border and gave a chest-thumping anti-immigration speech in Arizona that evening.

Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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Donald Trump Elections 2016 Enrique Pena Nieto Hillary Clinton La Razón Luis Videgaray Mexico Video