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Diplomatic tension with Mexico ends following President Rivlin call to counterpart

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A brief diplomatic spat between Israel and Mexico came to an end yesterday after the presidents of both countries had a phone call to smooth over ties.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin called Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and emphasised “our ties are close and important” after the Mexican government objected to a tweet by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which they believed expressed approval for US President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The weekend tweet said, in reference to Israel’s border fence with Egypt which drastically reduced illegal African migration: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

Rivlin explained to Pena Nieto: “The security situation in Israel and the region brought us to the important decision to build a barrier along our borders… We have no intention of drawing comparisons between Israel’s security situation and constraints and the situation of any of our friends around the world.”

Rivlin added: “I am sorry for any hurt caused as a result of this misunderstanding, but we must remember that we are talking about a misunderstanding, and I am sure that we can put the issue behind us.”

Emphasising the good ties between the two countries, Rivlin said that he was looking forward to welcoming Pena Nieto on a state visit later this year.

President Pena Nieto welcomed Rivlin’s comments, saying: “I want to stress that Mexico has always had close relations with Israel and we want that to continue.”

He added: “We are fully aware of the explanation that has been given for the tweet, but the interpretation of what was said was unavoidable.”

Netanyahu also attempted to clarify his comments yesterday. He told a conference in Tel Aviv: “I did point out the remarkable success of Israel’s security fence. But I did not comment about US-Mexico relations. We’ve had, and will continue to have, good relations with Mexico.”