Peruvian president criticizes U.S. proposal to separate immigrant families

Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski addresses a news conference with foreign media at the government palace in Lima, Peru, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski criticized a proposal being considered by the Trump administration to separate women and children crossing illegally into the United States, saying it was “something that shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century.”

Speaking to foreign media on Thursday, Kuczynski also reiterated that he told U.S. President Donald Trump in a White House meeting last month that he opposed Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration confirmed a Reuters report it was considering separating parents and children who enter illegally from Mexico in a bid to deter the dangerous journey.

“I don’t want to provoke controversy but for me separating families is something that shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century, and the wall either,” Kuczynski said in Spanish. “I told the U.S. president that.”

Kuczynski, a former U.S. citizen and an ardent defender of open economies, has been one of the few leaders of Washington’s traditional allies in Latin America to openly oppose Trump’s stance on immigration and trade.

Kuczynski previously compared Trump’s proposed border wall to the Berlin Wall and joked he would sever ties with the United States if Trump, a Republican, won last year’s election.

He has since praised the Peru-U.S. relationship under Trump and said the U.S. president had helped firm up global prices for copper, zinc and other minerals that Peru exports.

Reporting by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj; Editing by Peter Cooney