In a pre-taped television interview airing Tuesday night (Aug. 16), Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto said he would be willing to meet with Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“Yes, I would meet with him,” he told an interviewer, according to Reuters. “I have never met him. I can’t agree with some of the things he has said, but I will be absolutely respectful and will seek to work with whomever becomes the next president of the United States.”
This comes only months after the president compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. In March 2016, he described the then-candidate’s infamously xenophobic rhetoric as “strident,” adding, “that’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in.” He also publicly refused to contribute any funds to Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.
Such comments have cast doubts on the stability of US-Mexican relations should Trump take the White House in November—though hardly more so than the nature of Trump’s comments regarding Mexican immigrants in the United States.
He has since made similar comparisons on several occasions, including a June 2016 summit with US president Barack Obama and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, in which he clearly identified parallels between the movement buoying Trump and the waves of populist fervor that Hitler and Mussolini rode to elected office. But the tone was scaled back—he said he only drew the comparison to warn against the repetition of historical catastrophes.
It’s an interesting time for Peña Nieto to continue blunting his tone on Trump. The candidate is losing badly to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in numerous crucial battleground states, and trails her poll numbers nationwide by double-digits in some cases.
He’s certainly not doing it for anyone at home. Recent polling shows that as much as 75% of Mexican citizens (link in Spanish) hold a “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of Donald Trump.