President Pena Nieto insists his country will not bear the cost of a wall along the US-Mexico border. US President-elect Trump vowed to erect the structure first and charge his neighbor later.
Admitting that Mexico had "some differences with the next government of the United States," late on Wednesday, President Enrique Pena Nieto affirmed his country's stance that it would not pay for any US-built border wall.
He added however that Mexico would invest in a more secure border, adding that the US shared responsibility for the migrants seeking to cross the frontier.
In a speech to diplomats in the capital Mexico City, he said his government would seek "open and complete negotiations" with US President-elect Donald Trump's administration and that "everything is on the table, including security, migration and trade."
But "at no time will we accept anything that goes against our dignity as a country, and our dignity as Mexicans," he said to applause from the audience.
Trump speeds ahead
Pena Nieto made the comments just a few hours after Trump gave his first press conference since winning the November 8 US election in which he repeated a campaign promise to build a wall on the US-Mexico border as soon as possible.
Trump spoke after the leak of a potentially explosive scandal about his alleged sexual and financial activities in Russia.
The president-elect said the US would bear the cost first - estimated at up to $25 billion (23.6 billion euros) - before being reimbursed later by Mexico.
"Mexico in some form - and there are many different forms - will reimburse us," he said. "That will happen. Whether it's a tax or whether it's a payment."
Challenging trade talks
Pena Nieto said Mexico would face upcoming bilateral trade talks with dialogue and diplomacy, saying he was ready to discuss the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump has vowed to renegotiate.
However, he warned that his government would challenge any attempt to influence foreign investors "on the basis of fear or threats."
Trump, who takes office on January 20, renewed a pledge on Wednesday to impose "a major border tax" on companies that ship jobs to other countries, such as Mexico.
Trump has taken credit for automaker Ford's decision to cancel a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico while expanding its US operations. The Republican told reporters that he would eventually be known as the "greatest jobs producer God ever created," referring to his campaign promise to bring many offshore jobs back to the US.
In an attempt to challenge Trump's fiery rhetoric, Pena Nieto issued his own demands to the real estate tycoon, urging the new US administration to stop the flow of illegal guns across the border and to block money laundering activities by organized crime groups.
Last week, former finance minister Luis Videgaray returned to Mexico's cabinet as foreign minister, a crucial role for discussions with the new US administration.
mm/es (AFP, dpa, Reuters)