President Donald Trump met Friday in Germany with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Russian President Vladimir Putin—two leaders who have been central figures in his presidency for very different reasons—talking about a border wall, violence in Syria, and the interfering with the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump asserted he still expects Mexico to pay for the security wall along the southern border, but said nothing in response to reporters about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly said Trump and Putin reached a “defined agreement” about curbing the violence in Syria. Tillerson added, “This is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.”
Tillerson further told reporters Trump and Putin had a lengthy talk about the Russian interference in the U.S. presidential campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia was involved in hacking and propaganda to harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The leaders of the world’s top 20 economies gathered in Hamburg, Germany, for the G-20 summit Friday.
Trump didn’t initiate talk about the wall—a top issue during his campaign, in which he pledged to curb illegal immigration. But, in response to a shouted question after remarks with the Mexican president, Trump said he “absolutely” expects Mexico to pay for his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, according to a press pool report.
Trump’s meeting with Pena Nieto was his first bilateral meeting at the G-20, talking about transnational crime, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and immigration.
Pena Nieto spoke through an interpreter and said they would would discuss trade, migration, security, and organized crime, and “help continue a strong dialogue to allow for the negotiation of NAFTA.”
The Mexican leader said they would work for the “security of both nations, especially at our borders, And of course we will be working on migration issues, which have occupied both of our administrations.”
The official White House readout of the meeting said that Trump “emphasized the strong bilateral relationship that the United States enjoys with Mexico and noted the importance of renegotiating NAFTA to help workers in both countries,” adding the leaders “also discussed regional challenges, including drug trafficking, illegal migration, and the crisis in Venezuela.”
Just before meeting with Putin, Trump did not answer a shouted question from reporters about whether he would raise the issue of Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, according to the press pool. The matter is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees.
Though Putin’s government has been the eye of the storm for American probes, this is the first meeting between the two leaders.
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things and I think it’s going very well,” Trump said. He added, “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, and for the United States and for everybody concerned. And it’s an honor to be with you.”
Putin spoke through a translator about the importance of a face-to-face meeting.
“We spoke over the phone with you several times on a very important bilateral … But phone conversations are never enough definitely,” Putin said. “If you want to have a positive outcome in bilaterals and be able to resolve most international policy issues, that will really need personal meetings.”