A diplomatic fissure between the United States and Mexico widened as Donald Trump’s administration suggested taxing imports from the southern neighbour to fund a border wall and Mexico’s president scrapped a US visit.
Trump had been scheduled to receive Enrique Pena Nieto at the White House on Tuesday.
Instead, the Republican president is managing a foreign policy spat with a normally friendly nation and key trade partner during his first week in office.
The escalating war of words over who would pay for the proposed border wall — a central pledge made by Trump during his successful presidential campaign — hit the breaking point on Thursday.
“If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” Trump said on Twitter in the morning.
Under pressure at home to cancel the trip, Pena Nieto, who had good relations with former US president Barack Obama, tweeted later that he had informed the White House that he will “not attend the working meeting” next week.
“Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach agreements in both nations’ interests.”
Hours later, Trump told Republican lawmakers at a retreat in Philadelphia that the cancellation was by mutual agreement.
“Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route. I have no choice,” he said.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the “lines of communications” would remain open and Washington hoped to “schedule something in the future.”