Mexican president says Trump visit sparked minister's exit

September 22, 2016 3:44 PM EDT

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto walk out after finishing a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero


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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the resignation of his finance minister and trusted aide Luis Videgaray was prompted by Donald Trump's visit to Mexico last month, which led to widespread condemnation of the government.

The sudden meeting of the U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Pena Nieto on Aug. 31 sparked outrage in Mexico because of Trump's verbal attacks on Mexicans and his threats to build a border wall and tear up trade deals with Mexico.

Videgaray, widely viewed as the most influential member of Pena Nieto's inner circle, was identified by diplomats as the architect of the visit, and a week later, he resigned.

"The visit caused significant wear and tear on Luis, and obviously he was involved in the arrangement we made with the Trump candidate's campaign team to hold this meeting," Pena Nieto told local radio in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

"This wear and tear prompted me to take the decision, and accept the resignation he submitted," Pena Nieto said.

Reacting to Videgaray's departure, Trump first cited it as evidence of "how well (he) did" in Mexico, before making what appeared to be a u-turn, saying on Twitter that Mexico had lost a "brilliant finance minister and wonderful man."

Trump's threats to impose punitive tariffs on Mexico, deport millions of migrants and ditch the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if he cannot recast it in the United States' favor have caused major concern south of the border.

During his visit, Trump toned down his aggressive rhetoric against Mexico. He said there was a need to keep manufacturing wealth in the region and that a "strong, prosperous and vibrant Mexico was in the best interest of the United States".

As soon as he was back in the United States, he told a crowd in Arizona that Mexico would pay for his massive border wall "100 percent."

(Reporting by Veronica Gomez; Editing by Toni Reinhold)



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