Mexico is willing to negotiate over President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to build a border, but the country will not pay for it, the country’s new foreign relations secretary said Tuesday.
Luis Videgaray added that paying for the proposed wall was “unacceptable.”
Trump said last week that any money the U.S. spends to build the wall would be paid back by Mexico. The border wall was a big part of his immigration policy in the months before his election.
“There is no way that’s going to happen,” Videgaray said in an interview with the Telesvisa network. “It’s not a matter of how much does it cost, or where’s the money coming from, it’s a matter of dignity and national sovereignty.”
The wall became a hotbed of contention in Mexico and boiled over when Trump met with President Enrique Pena Nieto last year. Videgaray has initially resigned from Pena Nieto’s administration after ther Mexican president failed to take a public stance on the proposed border wall.
Videgaray and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner played a large role in setting up the meeting between Trump and Pena Nieto, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Videgaray also added Tuesday that Mexico wasn’t just willing to negotiate changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said there’s “enormous uncertainty” over Trump’s actions, which include pressuring companies not to move jobs to Mexico and threatening a tax to those who do.
“That is why this (negotiation) process is so important, to dispel this uncertainty." He said talks should start "as soon as possible."
Mexico's peso weakened further Tuesday, closing at an interbank rate of 21.73 to $1.
Videgaray said his government's main concern would be "how to protect jobs in Mexico," and said "there are a lot of reasons to think the negotiation would be favorable for Mexico."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.