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Mexico Readies For Trump's Visit Ahead Of Phoenix Immigration Speech

(Photo by Presidencia de la República Mexicana- CC BY 2.0)
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Donald Trump flew into Mexico on Wednesday to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto, just hours before he delivers a highly anticipated speech in Phoenix about his views on immigration policy.

Trump and Peña Nieto confirmed the meeting on Twitter. Trump wrote that he looks “very much forward” to the meeting. Peña Nieto wrote, more neutrally, that he believes in dialogue to promote the interests of Mexicans anywhere in the world.

Trump was scheduled to visit the presidential palace, Los Pinos, about four hours before his speech in Phoenix, Larry Rubin, head of the Republican Party in Mexico City, said on MVS radio.

Criticism was rampant on both sides on the border from election coverage press corps who were not invited to the side trip to major Mexican writers criticizing the trip. Larry Rubin, the head of Republicans in Mexico, framed the meeting in a more positive light.

"The most important part of this trip, more than looking for who did what is basically sitting down and paving the road to a very strong and dynamic relationship, based on mutual respect, based on friendship, and more than anything, based on mutual understanding of both countries," he said.

The trip comes as Trump seeks to clarify his position on immigration, an issue that has been a hallmark of Trump's campaign and has been controversial on both sides of the border. Peña Nieto has categorically dismissed two hallmarks of Trump’s campaign: the promise that the U.S. will force Mexico to build a wall between the two countries, and the characterization of many undocumented Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists.

Peña Nieto invited Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday to visit. The Clinton campaign had not yet issued a public response early Wednesday morning, although her Twitter account has focused on criticism of Trump's immigration plans today.

The meeting between Trump and Peña Nieto— two of the most unpopular public figures in Mexico— quickly draw harsh criticism in the U.S. and Mexico. Clinton's campaign sought to minimize the significance of the Mexico visit.

"What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions," Clinton spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the outgoing leader of Mexico's House of Representatives, questioned the need for such a meeting.

"There's no explanation for a private meeting between [Peña Nieto] and a candidate who has repeatedly offended Mexico and its people," Zambrano tweeted.