LIMA The first Latin American leader to visit U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House said on Friday that he told Trump he prefers bridges to walls and favors the free movement of people across borders.
However, in a press conference following the meeting, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski declined to comment specifically on Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
“I don’t want to get into the wall,” Kuczynski said in comments broadcast on Peruvian television channel Canal N. “We’re interested in the free movement of people … I emphasized that to President Trump and we prefer bridges to walls.”
Kuczynski has previously likened Trump’s wall proposal to the Berlin Wall and once joked that he would cut off ties with the United States if Trump were elected president.
Kuczynski later congratulated Trump on his surprise electoral victory and described their meeting on Friday as friendly and positive.
Canal N reported that the meeting lasted about 10 minutes, much shorter than the 45 minutes initially scheduled.
Kuczynski said he only briefly discussed Peru’s fugitive former president, Alejandro Toledo, with Trump and said Toledo’s fate was now in the hands of the judiciary. Kuczynski said about two weeks ago that he had asked Trump to personally deport Toledo.
When asked if he considered Venezuela a democracy, Kuczynski said “we support democracy in all of Latin America.”
(Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Leslie Adler and Meredith Mazzilli)