Relations with the US cannot be defined by 'murmurs': Mexico president

(Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Saturday said that the U.S.-Mexico relationship cannot be defined by "murmurs," the day after U.S. President Donald Trump said Mexico would "absolutely" pay for his proposed southern border wall.

Speaking at the end of his trip to Hamburg for the G20 meeting, Pena Nieto told reporters that the relationship with the United States, Mexico's top trading partner, should instead focus on more positive ends - a view that he believed Trump also shared.

"Given what happened after this meeting (with Trump), clearly our bilateral relationship cannot be defined by murmurs like those that took place yesterday," Pena Nieto said.

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President Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-20 summit
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President Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-20 summit
U.S. President Donald Trump meets Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. President Donald Trump, European Council President Donald Tusk, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Financial Stability Board (FSB) President Mark Carney, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Saudi Arabia Minister of State Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, United Nations Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pose for a family photo at the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool
US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 07: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (top) talks to US President Donald Trump (L) and his wife Melania Trump (R) as they attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie philharmonic concert hall on the first day of the G20 economic summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. The G20 group of nations are meeting July 7-8 and major topics will include climate change and migration. (Photo by Felipe Trueba - Pool / Getty Images)
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"Our relationship needs to be based on searching for ways to generate mutual respect, build confidence and work with a positive attitude. I can say that I saw that willingness in President Trump."

For the first time since becoming president in January, Trump met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday. Trump has accused Mexico of stealing U.S. jobs, and complex talks over renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are due to begin on August 16.

The meeting at the Hamburg leaders' summit of the Group of 20 economies was keenly anticipated in Mexico, and officials were quick to stress talks had been productive, despite Trump repeating that Mexico would pay for his planned border wall.

In response to a shouted question from a reporter about whether he still wants Mexico to pay for the border wall, which aims to keep out illegal immigrants, Trump said, "Absolutely."

Disputes over immigration, Trump's border wall - which Mexico has repeatedly said it would not pay for - and his claim that free trade with Mexico costs jobs in the United States, have strained relations between the two neighbors.

Trump has threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Mexican goods to protect U.S. industry, and to pull out of NAFTA altogether if he cannot rework it in the United States' favor.

Pena Nieto also met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday, according to a readout of the meeting, in which Pena Nieto said he was working closely with Canada to come up with a better, mutually beneficial update to NAFTA.

Pena Nieto also said he met with Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi and agreed to possibly making a trip to the Asian nation next year, with a view to deepening trade links.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Diane Craft)

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