Trump, Mexico President Pena Nieto Talk by Phone Amid Border Wall Tensions

Mexican official confirms conversation took place; White House: call lasted for about an hour.

A person peers through a section of a U.S.-Mexico border wall with activist graffiti displayed in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.
David Maung/Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump said he had a "very good" phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday and agreed to work to improve ties after a meeting between the two leaders was scrapped amid a dispute over funding Trump's planned border wall. 

"We had a very good call. I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico ... but, as you know, Mexico with the United States has out-negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. They've made us look foolish," Trump told a news conference at the White House. 

Trump said the call was friendly and he looked forward to renegotiating the U.S. trade relationship with Mexico in the future. 

Pena Nieto Trump also agreed not to talk publicly for now about payment of the wall the American wants to build on the United States' southern border and that he says Mexico should finance. 

In a statement, Mexico's government said that during a phone call on Friday, the two had held "constructive and productive" talks and broached issues including the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and the flow of illegal arms and drugs across the border. 

"Regarding payment of the border wall, both presidents recognized their clear and very public differences of opinion on this sensitive subject, and agreed to resolve their differences as part of a comprehensive discussion on all aspects of the bilateral relationship," the statement said. 

"The presidents also agreed for now to not talk publicly about this controversial issue."