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Mexico-US Diplomatic Rift

*(Original article from, The Telegraph): Mexico's president has hit back at Donald Trump's decision to build a border wall, repeating that his country would not pay for it. Hours after the US president ordered the construction of the wall between the two countries, President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned the decision and rejected Mr Trump's avowals that Mexico would pay for it."I regret and reject the decision of the US to build the wall," he said in a recorded address televised nationally. "I have said time and time again, Mexico will not pay for any wall."

Earlier on Wednesday, an official told the Associated Press that the Mexican leader "is considering" scrapping a visit to Washington on January 31. Mr Pena Nieto said he would await reports from the high-level team of Mexican officials currently meeting with Trump administration officials in Washington. "Based on the final report from the Mexican officials who are in Washington right now ... I will make decisions about what to do next," Mr Pena Nieto said.

His foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, was more confident that it would go ahead. "The meeting between the two presidents in Washington next Tuesday is still confirmed," Mr Videgaray said. "The meeting, for now, is going forward." After talking tough about the wall, he held out an olive branch, and said: "Mexico re-affirms its friendship with the people of the United States, and its willingness to reach agreements with its government."

Critics of Mr Pena Nieto, whose approval ratings were just 12 per cent in a recent survey, the lowest for any Mexican president in the polling era, have hammered him for his perceived weakness on Mr Trump. Opposition politicians urged him on Wednesday to call off the trip.

"The position is very clear," said Ricardo Anaya Cortes, president of the conservative opposition National Action Party. "Either one cancels the meeting with Donald Trump, or one attends it to say publicly and with absolute firmness that Mexico rejects the wall and we will not pay a single cent for it."

Mr Trump's order came the same day that Mexico's foreign relations and economy secretaries arrived in Washington, and its timing was seen by many in Mexico as a slap in the face. The US president issued the order as he launched broad but divisive plans to reshape US immigration and national security policy on Wednesday. In addition to ordering the construction of the wall, he also demanded punishment for cities shielding illegal immigrants (sanctuary cities) and said he was mulling restoring a CIA secret detention programme.

A draft executive order seen by Reuters that Mr Trump is expected to sign in the coming days would block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries including Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied.

Less than a week into his presidency, Trump has moved aggressively to put his stamp on a range of policies, including steps to gut the healthcare system devised by his predecessor, and make clear that as president he is not turning toward more moderate positions than he took as a candidate. His directives on Wednesday signalled tough action toward the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States, most from Latin America, whom he already has threatened to deport.

In a move critics called a slight to the integrity of American democracy, Trump also said on Wednesday he would seek a "major investigation" into what he believes was voter fraud in the November election, despite overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts and politicians that it is rare in the United States.

"We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States," Trump told an audience that included relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants at the Department of Homeland Security after signing two executive orders. The directives ordered the construction of a multi billion-dollar wall along the roughly 2,000 mile (3,200km) US-Mexico border, moved to strip federal funding from "sanctuary" states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants, and expanded the force of American immigration agents.


*(Original Online Article: The Telegraph)*

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