President Donald Trump said Monday he has had a 30-minute phone call with the newly-elected leader of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, discussing trade, border security, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the possibility of a Mexico-U.S. trade deal.
"I think the relationship will be a very good one. We'll see what happens," President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office about the call earlier Monday with Mexico's president-elect, adding that the election was "better than anticipated."
Lopez Obrador, meanwhile, said in an interview Monday he would speak with President Trump to try to "reach an understanding" on Trump's proposed border wall and other issues deeply dividing the two countries.
The comments from Lopez Obrador come after Trump congratulated his new Mexican counterpart after his overwhelming presidential win Sunday.
“Congratulations to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on becoming the next President of Mexico. I look very much forward to working with him,” tweeted President Trump on Sunday evening before the leftist Obrador’s vote count was projected to be around 53 percent. “There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”
Lopez Obrador called Trump's tweet "very respectful." Nicknamed ALMO, he is a populist ex-mayor of Mexico City whom the Mexican voters are anticipating will change the country’s political climate after their discontent with the current president Pena Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ruled for over 70 years since 1929.
Throughout his election campaign, Obrador has been openly critical of President Trump and his proposed border wall.
“When a wall is built to segregate people or when the word “foreigner” is used to insult, disparage and discriminate our fellow men, humanity, intelligence and history are being insulted,” said the president-elect, who will take office in December, in a speech in Los Angeles last year explaining the need to “counteract” Trump’s strategy.
In addition to calling President Trump “erratic and arrogant,” a two-time failed presidential candidate published a book condemning Trump’s plan to build a wall on the southern U.S. border. The title of the book, “Oye, Trump,” translates to “Listen Up, Trump.”
Despite the harsh talk during his campaign and his visits to the U.S., Obrador said in his acceptance speech Sunday that he will seek a relationship of "friendship” and “respect" with the U.S.
In February, Trump and Pena Nieto canceled a planned U.S. visit by the Mexican president. in addition to the border wall issue, the two countries are at odds over Trump's demand that NAFTA be renegotiated or even abandoned.