MEXICO CITY: Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said Friday his country was in a position of strength in negotiations with US President Donald Trump, joking that the fellow tycoon was a negotiator, “not Terminator.”
Slim called a rare news conference to weigh in on the diplomatic row between Trump and President Enrique Pena Nieto over the US leader’s insistence that Mexico pay for a border wall to curb illegal immigration.
The spat escalated this week as Trump ordered the wall’s construction, which he wants Mexico to fund, while Pena Nieto cancelled a meeting with the US president scheduled for next week in Washington.
“I think that, to put it in cinematographic terms, Trump is not ‘Terminator,’ he’s a negotiator,” Slim said, referring to the science-fiction film about a killer cyborg from the future.
The telecommunications magnate showed a copy of Trump’s book “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America” as he discussed the New York real estate tycoon’s negotiating skills.
The US leader, Slim said, seeks to “provoke to negotiate” but he voiced confidence that Pena Nieto and Trump will eventually meet due to the importance of US-Mexican relations.
Slim said he felt “great pleasure” in seeing Mexican society back Pena Nieto’s decision to cancel next week’s meeting, saying he was surprised by the national unity.
“We are in a position of strength… without getting angry but also without surrendering,” he said.
The head of the America Movil telecoms empire said that in the negotiations, Mexican officials must make Americans “understand that what’s best (for the United States) is to have an economic and trade association with Mexico.”
In addition to making Mexico pay for the wall, Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Slim, who had criticized Trump during the presidential campaign, had dinner with the fellow billionaire in Florida in December after Trump’s election victory. Slim said he had not had contact with Trump since then. -AFP