Seated next to Mexican leader, Trump says he wants Mexico to pay for wall

President Trump said Friday he "absolutely" wants Mexico to pay for a border wall while sitting next to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The two presidents were holding their first in-person bilateral meeting since Trump took office in January, after a first meeting was scrapped over tensions about payment for Trump's proposed wall along the southern border.

Peña Nieto has insisted Mexico will not pay, or even consider negotiations on payment, for any border wall.


After the canceled meeting in January, both presidents agreed during a phone call not to discuss the matter in public.

On Thursday, Trump was asked by Associated Press reporter Darlene Superville if he still wanted Mexico to pay for the wall.

"Absolutely," Trump replied while seated next to Peña Nieto.

Seated to Trump's left were Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. On a video of the encounter, all four appeared to laugh at Trump's comment.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said during a press conference later in the day that payment for the wall was not discussed in the private conversation.

"What I can say are two things: first, it wasn't part of the conversation, it wasn't part of what we discussed, and second, that comment you say President Trump made ... I didn't hear it," said Videgaray.

"I can't deny it because I didn't hear it, we didn't hear it. The important, relevant thing for Mexico is it wasn't part of the conversation, that's what we had agreed on and that's how it was," he added, according to Mexican newspaper Reforma.

On Twitter, Peña Nieto called the meeting "productive" and said the two presidents discussed "migration, security and economic development."

Mexico and the United States will begin negotiations on a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in August.

The two presidents spoke behind closed doors for about 30 minutes after delivering statements to the press.

"We’re negotiating NAFTA and some other things with Mexico and we’ll see how it all turns out, but I think we've made very good progress," said Trump.

Peña Nieto said he hoped the conversation would "contribute to having a fluid dialogue, which will permit us to advance in the renegotiation of what will the the free trade agreement."

Peña Nieto then thanked Trump "for this space of opportunity," Reforma reported.

The two presidents' greetings were "cordial, but cold," according to government officials, reported Reforma.

Updated: 12:55 p.m.