Donald Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday that the United States has the right to build a border wall to halt illegal immigration, but the Republican presidential candidate did not bring up his demand that Mexico pay for it.
In an unexpected trip to a country which he has frequently vilified for illegal immigration and drug smuggling, Trump held talks with the Mexican leader at his residence for about an hour.
"We did discuss the wall, we didn’t discuss payment of the wall, that will be at a later date, this was a very preliminary meeting. It was an excellent meeting," Trump said.
In campaign rallies for the Nov. 8 election, the New York businessman frequently tells approving crowds that Mexico must pay for his planned wall.
Pena Nieto told Trump that Mexicans deserved respect.
"The Mexicans in the United States are honest. ... Mexicans deserve the respect of everyone," he said, standing next to Trump.
Mexican opposition politicians heavily criticized Pena Nieto for hosting Trump, who has accused Mexico of sending criminals and rapists across the border and cheating the United States on trade.
A few dozen people gathered beneath a monument to Mexican independence in the center of the capital to protest the visit, some holding placards emblazoned with captions such as "You are not Wall-come" and "Trump and Pena out."
Trump's visit to Mexico City took place hours before he was due to deliver a highly anticipated speech in the border state of Arizona on how he would tackle illegal immigration if he wins the election.
(Reporting by Christine Murray and Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Amanda Becker and Ginger Gibson in Washington; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)