The start of the televised phone call with Mexico’s president Monday announcing a major trade agreement got off to an awkward start.
President Donald Trump prodded the phone in his office, pressing buttons.
“Hello?” he asked. “Enrique?”
The start of the televised phone call with Mexico’s president Monday announcing a major trade agreement could be described with one word: awkward.
“It’s a big day trade. Big day for our country. A lot of people thought we’d never get here,” the president said as he entered the Oval Office to an array of news cameras.
The trade deal with Mexico could pave the way for a revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It’s not unusual for the reality-star-turned-president to put on a show when he has big announcements, but this one had a rough beginning.
Trump sat down at the Resolute desk and picked up the phone – but Mexican President Enrique Pea Peña Nieto wasn’t there.
“I believe the president is on the phone,” Trump said as he poked at the buttons on his desk phone. “Enrique?”
“You can hook them up,” Trump said to his White House staff. “A lot of people waiting.”
“Hello?” he said again. “Hello?”
An aide came to the rescue, patching the Mexican president through to his line and helping Trump place the call on speaker.
The leaders talked about the deal, and Peña Nieto repeatedly expressed interest for Canada to be incorporated into the agreement. Trump said the United States would have a deal with Canada “one way or another.”
In Trump’s announcement Monday, he said the new agreement would be called the United States-Mexico trade agreement and would replace NAFTA, which he said had “bad connotations” for the United States.
Trump said that he intends to terminate NAFTA and that the United States would immediately begin negotiations with Canada, the third party in the trilateral trade pact that he has called the “worst deal ever.”
Contributing: Michael Collins
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