MEXICO CITY — Hunkered down in the presidential palace, Enrique Peña Nieto, the unpopular leader of Mexico, was besieged on both sides.
The new American president, Donald J. Trump, had just ordered the construction of a border wall between the two countries, and the public outcry in Mexico was deafening. Top cabinet officials, meanwhile, counseled caution, urging Mr. Peña Nieto not to cancel his meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House next week.
For months, though his ratings hovered near the single digits, the worst of any Mexican president in recent history, Mr. Peña Nieto resisted the temptation to saber-rattle, arguing that the relationship with America was simply too important to fall prey to a war of words.
He wanted to give diplomacy one last try. By Thursday morning, the effort had officially failed.
In a blitz of Twitter messages from the two presidents, fired off over the past two days, the first full-blown foreign policy standoff of the Trump administration has taken shape.
The public sparring came after months of simmering tensions between the two men. For decades, the United States and Mexico have expanded their cooperation and increasingly entwined their fortunes. Now the relationship between America and one of its most important allies and trading partners is being rewritten — on Twitter — culminating in a remarkable back-and-forth as the world looked on.
It began with Mr. Trump’s proclamation to build the wall. Next came a diplomatic response from Mr. Peña Nieto, urging unity, accompanied by suggestions from his aides that the meeting might be scrapped over the offense.Read More...
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