US President Donald Trump pressured the Mexican President to stop voicing opposition in public to his plan to have Mexico pay for a border wall, according to transcripts of phone calls.
The transcripts were published on Thursday night in the Washington Post and give an insight into Trump’s attempts to influence foreign leaders in his first days in office.
The transcripts of the sometimes fraught calls with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just days after the Republican took office on January 20.
The substance of the calls has previously been reported, but the lengthy transcripts reveal President Trump, whose first elected office is the presidency, trying to use a mixture of bluster, tough talk and charm as he fully enters the world of diplomacy.
Mr Trump argued with Mr Turnbull over refugees in an acrimonious call on January 28, which the new US president told his counterpart was “unpleasant”.
In a January 27 call, Trump pressed Mr Pena Nieto to avoid saying in public that Mexico would not fund the planned border wall.
The proposed wall, aimed at preventing illegal immigration to the US, is a bone of contention between Mexico and Washington.
Mr Pena Nieto has repeatedly rejected Mr Trump’s promise that Mexico will end up paying billions of dollars for its construction.
Mr Trump told the Mexican leader in the call that “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that”, according to the transcript.
“You cannot say that to the press,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Pena Nieto had earlier scrapped a plan to hold talks with Mr Trump in the US because of tensions over the wall and trade. The two men have since met.
In the conversation with Mr Pena Nieto, Mr Trump said both leaders were “in a little bit of a political bind” due to the US President’s campaign pledge to build the wall and have Mexico foot the bill.
“I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period,” Mr Trump said.
He suggested that the two men avoid the issue of paying for the wall when asked.
“They are going to say, ‘Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘We will work it out,'” Mr Trump said.
“It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay,'” the President said.
Mr Pena Nieto said he understood Mr Trump’s position on how to refer to paying for the border wall and suggested seeking “a creative way to jump over this obstacle”.