Trump, Pena Nieto Seek to Ease U.S.-Mexico Tensions

(CN) – President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke for an hour by phone on Friday, ultimately agreeing to work out their differences over a border wall “as part of a comprehensive discussion” on their bilateral relationship.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it — making the statement a rally cry as he barnstormed around the country as a candidate last spring and fall.

But Pena Nieto has repeatedly said his country won’t pay for the wall.

The two leaders were supposed to meet in Washington next week, but the Mexican president announced Thursday that he was scrapping the visit.

Trump briefly tried to spin the cancellation as a mutual decision, but the effort fell flat.

After the call on Friday, the White House released a statement, explaining the conversation between the presidents was “mutually arranged by their teams.”

“The two had a productive and constructive call regarding the bilateral relationship between the two countries, the current trade deficit the United States has with Mexico, the importance of the friendship between the two nations, and the need for the two nations to work together to stop drug cartels, drug trafficking and illegal guns and arms sales,” the statement said.

With respect to payment for the border wall, the statement said “both presidents recognize their clear and very public differences of positions on this issue.”

The White House said the presidents instructed their teams to continue to try to resolve the two country’s differences and “to strengthen this important strategic and economic relationship in a constructive way.”