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Mexico tells Trump: "We will not pay for any wall'

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada also issued an angry riposte to Trump’s wall plan.

Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP/Press Association Images

Updated 7.45am

MEXICAN PRESIDENT ENRIQUE Pena Nieto has weighed whether to cancel a meeting with Donald Trump next week as he condemned the US president’s decision to build a massive border wall.

Lawmakers are pressuring Pena Nieto to scrap Tuesday’s talks in Washington after Trump made good on his campaign pledge to quickly order the construction of the barrier.

“I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us,” Pena Nieto said in a nationally televised message.

“I have said it time and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said, referring to Trump’s vow to make the southern neighbour pay for the barrier.

“Mexico gives and demands respect as the completely sovereign nation that we are,” Pena Nieto said.

Pena Nieto said he would wait for a report from a high-level Mexican delegation holding meetings in the US capital this week and consult with governors and lawmakers before deciding on “the next steps to take.”

Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who was in Washington, told the Televisa network that Pena Nieto will weigh whether to travel to Washington but that “the meeting stands for now.”

And former President Vicente Fox Quesada had even stronger words, with a tweet aimed at Trump and his press secretary Sean Spicer.

Torture

Trump has said he thinks waterboarding and other interrogation techniques widely seen as torture – and prohibited by law – “absolutely” work, but would defer to his CIA and Pentagon chiefs on whether to reinstate them.

When asked about waterboarding in an interview with ABC News at the White House, Trump said it was necessary to “fight fire with fire” in the face of the beheadings of Americans and other atrocities by Islamic State militants.

The comments from the new Republican president – which echo statements he made on the campaign trail – come as reports suggest his administration may be considering the reinstatement of secret CIA “black site” prisons overseas.

“When they’re chopping off the heads of our people, and other people… when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I’m concerned, we have to fight fire with fire,” he said.

But he said he would rely on the advice of Pentagon chief James Mattis and Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo.

“I’m going to go with what they say,” Trump told ABC. “And if they don’t want to do, that’s fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally.”

“But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works.”

The New York Times reported on a three-page draft order reauthorising the “black site” prisons where suspects detained after the 9/11 attacks of 2001 were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” — including waterboarding.

A Trump spokesman said the draft seen by the newspaper did not originate at the White House.

In February 2016, Trump said “torture works” and pledged to bring back waterboarding and “much worse.”

However, in December, after meeting with Mattis, Trump said he was “impressed” with Mattis’s argument that building trust and rewarding cooperation by detainees worked better than waterboarding.

During his confirmation hearing before a Senate committee, Pompeo promised he would “absolutely not” comply with any order to revive the “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by the CIA after 9/11.

Trump may also face opposition from senior Republicans and Democrats who are opposed to bringing back methods such as waterboarding.

Issuing a statement yesterday, Senator John McCain said: “”The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi echoed this sentiment, where she said: “It is wrong and I hope he will rethink it.”

© AFP 2017

With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: Trump issues executive order for wall to be built along Mexican border

Read: Here are the policy decisions Donald Trump made yesterday

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