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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Trump says Mexico halting migrant flow may be NAFTA condition

President’s threats to exit trade accord have unnerved US industry and members of his own Republican party

Donald Trump continues to extol the virtues of his wall to put off Mexican immigrants to the US
Donald Trump continues to extol the virtues of his wall to put off Mexican immigrants to the US

President Donald Trump said on Monday he may make Mexico halting the flow of undocumented migrants into the United States a condition for a renegotiated trade deal.

“Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the US We may make this a new condition of our new NAFTA Agreement. Our Country cannot accept what is happening! Also, we must get Wall funding fast,” he wrote on Twitter.

The social media announcement came more than a week after the US leader said talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada were “coming along great,” although he said there was no deadline for a new deal to be completed.

Mr Trump’s threats to exit NAFTA have unnerved US industry and members of his own Republican party, who say the United States has benefited from the pact.

They have also rattled Canada and Mexico.

The latter, which sends some 80 percent of its exports to the United States, lashed out at Trump’s tweet.

Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray said it was “unacceptable” to link NAFTA to migration issues.

“Mexico decides its own migration policy, as a sovereign state,” he wrote on Twitter.

US-Mexican relations have tensed again in recent weeks as Mr Trump fired off a series of furious tweets about a caravan of more than 1,000 Central American migrants traveling toward the US border, calling on the Mexican government to stop them.

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto warned his American counterpart that “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” were uncalled for, and ordered his government to carry out a sweeping review of all cooperation with the United States.

The caravan, whose numbers have dwindled to about 600 people, is nearing the US border. The activists leading it said they would help some 200 migrants request asylum in the United States because they are fleeing violence or repression.

Ties between the United States and Mexico have been strained since Mr Trump won election in 2016 on the back of a campaign heavy on anti-Mexican rhetoric and promises to build a wall on the two countries’ border and make Mexico pay for it.

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