Mexican leader admits minister quit over Trump visit


Mexico City (AFP)

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has acknowledged that his finance minister resigned this month due to the fallout from his role in organizing Donald Trump's unpopular visit to Mexico.

Pena Nieto had never revealed the reason for Luis Videgaray's resignation, but local media widely reported that his close confidant had played a central role in the White House hopeful's August 31 visit.

Pena Nieto has come under fire for meeting with the Republican candidate, who has called Mexican migrants "rapists" and threatens to make his government pay for a border wall.

The president told Radio Formula in an interview broadcast on Thursday that Videgaray had been "greatly weakened" because he "had been involved in the arrangement that we made with the Trump campaign team" for the meeting.

"This weakening prompted me to take a decision and accept the resignation," Pena Nieto said.

Pena Nieto named Jose Antonio Meade, his social development minister and former foreign minister, as finance minister on September 7.

The Mexican leader admitted in another radio interview on Wednesday that he had maybe been "hasty" in inviting Trump and "didn't ponder the social reaction" that it would cause.

But the unpopular president insisted that he was "correct" to meet with someone who could become the next US leader.

A survey by pollsters GEA-ISA shows that 15 percent of Mexicans see the Trump visit as Pena Nieto's biggest mistake, above any other issue.