MEXICO CITY—Mexico on Monday vowed "no confrontation and no submission" in renegotiating relations with the United States under its President Donald Trump but admitted it planned to seek alternative trade partners.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said he was willing to discuss trade, illegal migration and other aspects of bilateral ties with Trump but insisted he would defend Mexico's national interests.
"Neither confrontation nor submission: the solution is dialogue and negotiation," Pena Nieto said in a speech outlining his strategy for relations with Trump.
The new U.S. president has threatened to scrap international trade accords to protect U.S. jobs.
On Monday, he signed a memo on withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade pact championed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
The TPP included Mexico, the United States and 10 other countries spanning the Pacific.
In one of the first reactions to Trump's move, Pena Nieto said he would "immediately" seek to negotiate new bilateral deals with other TPP member countries to "diversify" Mexico's trade relations.
North American Trade Change
Mexico is expected to be among the countries most affected by Trump's trade policies. It relies on the United States to buy most of its exports.
Trump also pledged on Sunday to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.
He said in an address to White House staff that "we're going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA" in upcoming meetings with Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Pena Nieto's office said earlier that he spoke with Trudeau by phone on Sunday to coordinate efforts to protect an economically integrated North America.
Trump is scheduled to receive Pena Nieto on January 31.
Trump praised the Mexican leader, saying: "The president has been really very amazing and I think we are going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved. It's very important."
No Walls, Please
Pena Nieto on Monday also challenged Trump's vow to build a border wall to stop migrants from entering the United States illegally via Mexico -- one of the most sensitive themes in Trump's election campaign.
"Even though Mexico recognizes the right of any sovereign country to guarantee its own security, Mexico does not believe in walls," Pena Nieto said.
"Our country believes in bridges... to promote good neighborly relations."
As a candidate, Trump made a surprise visit to Mexico.
The meeting turned controversial after Pena Nieto and Trump contradicted each other's accounts of the encounter.
Trump told reporters that the pair did not discuss who would pay for the contested border wall he has promised to build. Pena Nieto said he "made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall."
Trump also offended Mexicans during his election campaign by saying some migrants from the country were rapists and criminals.
He threatened to suspend remittances sent home from the United States by Mexican migrants to their families if Mexico refused to pay for the wall.
Pena Nieto vowed in Monday's speech to ensure the "free flow" of remittances.
He said he would negotiate for any return of migrants from the United States to Mexico to be "orderly and coordinated" with Washington.
Mexico's foreign and economy ministers were scheduled to head to Washington for meetings with US government officials on Wednesday and Thursday.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2017