Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Tuesday that he is willing to meet with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — whom he earlier likened to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Reuters reports that Peña Nieto confirmed that he would meet with Trump during a pre-taped television interview in Mexico on Tuesday evening: “Yes, I would meet with him … I have never met him. I can’t agree with some of the things he has said, but I will be absolutely respectful and will seek to work with whomever becomes the next president of the United States.”
In an interview in March with a Mexican newspaper, Peño Nieta had accused Trump of using the same kind of populism that brought Hitler and Mussolini to power. In June, at a summit in Canada, Peña Nieto backtracked somewhat, saying that he had not intended to say that Trump is like those dictators, only that his populist style and policies would have the same result.
Pena Nieto’s suddenly diplomatic attitude this week marks the second time a Mexican leader has backed down after expressing initial hostility to Trump, who is running on a pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, funded by taxing remittances from Mexican workers in the U.S.
In May, former Mexican president Vicente Fox apologized to Trump in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. Fox had said he would not pay for Trump’s “fucking wall” and called Trump “Ignorant … crazy … egocentric … nasty … [a] false prophet.”
But with Trump closing in on the Republican presidential nomination, Fox adopted a more pragmatic tone, inviting Trump to meet him in Mexico to discuss trade and other issues.