WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: Donald Trump announced he will travel to Mexico on Wednesday to meet with the country’s president, just hours ahead of the Republican White House hopeful’s much-anticipated Arizona speech on immigration.
“I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow,” Trump posted on Twitter.
I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2016
Mexico’s presidential office confirmed Trump’s visit, posting its own tweet in Spanish to say the billionaire New York real estate tycoon “has accepted the invitation and will meet tomorrow privately with the President @EPN.”
— Presidencia México (@PresidenciaMX) August 31, 2016
Pena Nieto’s office said in a statement that he had sent invitations to Trump as well as to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, “which were received on good terms by their respective campaign teams.”
Trump has routinely assailed Mexican immigrants who illegally cross the border into the United States, and he has made hardline immigration policies, including calls for deportations, a key plank of his campaign.
A sudden international trip by a US presidential candidate would be a logistical and security nightmare on such short notice.
But Trump could be sensing an opportunity in the visit, as he mulls whether to soften his positions on immigration, in particular his call early in his campaign to deport some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows in the United States.
Any Trump-Pena Nieto meeting could be an awkward affair. In rally after campaign rally, Trump has pledged to “build a wall” on the US southern border if he becomes president and force Mexico to pay for it.
When he launched his campaign last year, Trump used some of the most incendiary language of his candidacy in describing some Mexicans as drug dealers, “rapists” and other criminals.
Trump is scheduled to deliver a crucial speech on Wednesday evening in Phoenix, Arizona, seen as an opportunity to clarify his positions on immigration.