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A week after Mexico's magnitude 8.1 earthquake, Trump calls to send condolences

Then-candidate Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in August 2016 in Mexico City. (Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press)
Then-candidate Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in August 2016 in Mexico City. (Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press)

President Trump called Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday to offer condolences for last week's magnitude 8.1 earthquake, which toppled hundreds of buildings and killed dozens of people in southern Mexico. 

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One after surveying damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, Trump said he had just "had a good talk" with the Mexican leader.

Trump said it had been "impossible to reach" Peña Nieto for days because the Mexican president was in a remote part of the country with a bad phone connection.

Trump's weeklong delay in acknowledging the earthquake or sending condolences had angered many in Mexico, who hold the U.S. president in low esteem after his repeated attacks on their nation. 

On Twitter on Thursday, many mocked Trump's explanation that Peña Nieto had been difficult to reach. 

Peña Nieto has traveled multiple times in recent days to the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, where the earthquake damage was worst. But he also spent considerable time in Mexico City, including on Wednesday, when he presided over a military event.

In a statement, Peña Nieto's office said he and Trump had a productive conversation.

It said Peña Nieto stressed the importance of finding a permanent solution for the 700,000 or so beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally since they were children. 

Trump announced last week that he was ending the program. But he has said in recent days that he hopes to work with Congress to pass a law that would protect so-called Dreamers.

"President Trump was optimistic that the U.S. Congress would reach a solution for the young people who are now covered by this program," Peña Nieto's office said. 

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