Mexico's president will be among the first foreign leaders to meet with Trump this month

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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke to President Trump by phone Saturday morning to congratulate him on his inauguration and set the tone for upcoming talks between the two countries.

Trump and Peña Nieto will meet in Washington on Jan. 31 to discuss trade, immigration and security, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in Washington.

The Mexican president’s early visit to the Trump White House underscores the importance that Mexico City places on having smooth relations with the new  U.S. administration, despite candidate Trump’s many broadsides against Mexico and Mexicans.

According to a statement released by the Mexican government, Peña Nieto told Trump on Saturday that he hopes to work together "with a focus on respect for the sovereignty of both nations and shared responsibility."

There is deep concern here that some of Trump’s campaign threats — such as undertaking large-scale deportations and renegotiating trade deals — could send Mexico into an economic tailspin. Mexican officials are keen to demonstrate good will and to short-circuit any U.S. actions that could further unsettle the Mexican economy.

Mexico’s peso went into a steady decline against the dollar last year as Trump rose in the polls, and dropped to new lows following his election. 

Peña Nieto's approval ratings have also fallen at a swift rate -- down to 12% last week -- in part because he has been seen as placating Trump.

Peña Nieto has been forced to walk a fine line when it comes to Trump, whose disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants have made him a near universally reviled figure here. He risks angering Trump if he attacks him too much, and angering voters if doesn't do so enough.

This month, Peña Nieto struck a more defiant tone, warning that Mexico will push back if Trump attacks the country on trade or other fronts — using its cooperation on crucial issues such as immigration and security as leverage.

Two Mexican Cabinet members — Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo — are scheduled to travel to Washington on Wednesday to discuss the “bilateral relationship” with members of the Trump administration, the Mexican Foreign Ministry has announced.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

Twitter: @katelinthicum

patrick.mcdonnell@latimes.com

twitter: @mcdneville

Times staff writer Michael A. Memoli contributed to the report from Washington.

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