OTTAWA Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has previously likened U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, said on Wednesday he only drew the comparison as a reminder of the devastation wreaked in the past.
Speaking at a press conference alongside U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, who have gathered in Ottawa for the "Three Amigos" summit, Pena Nieto warned of the dangers of populism in a globalized world.
"Hitler, Mussolini, we all know the result," he said when asked to explain the comparison. "It was only a call for reflection and for recognition, so that we bear in mind what we have achieved and the great deal still to achieve."
The presumptive Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election, Trump has sparked outrage in Mexico with his campaign vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to make Mexico pay for it.
In March, Pena Nieto likened Trump's "strident tone" to the ascent of dictators like Hitler and Mussolini, attacking the "populism" of the Trump campaign, which he said sought to put forward simple solutions for complicated problems.
"In different places we are presented with political actors and political leaders who assume populist and demagogic positions, and try to eliminate or destroy ... that which has taken decades to build," Pena Nieto said on Wednesday.
Trump has vowed to renegotiate or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if he becomes president.
Mexico, the United States and Canada signed off on amending NAFTA to liberalize rules of origin for a host of products, the Canadian prime minister's website said on Wednesday.
"Isolation is not the path, integration is," Pena Nieto said, repeating the fact that Mexico will work with whomever becomes the next U.S. president.
He also believed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement was a chance for the three countries to reaffirm ties.
(Additional reporting by Simon Gardner and David Alire Garcia; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by James Dalgleish)