In a Friday meeting at the White House, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski told President Donald Trump that he prefers “bridges to walls” and that he wants to help foster the “legal” free movement of people.
While he offered a soft admonishment of Trump’s proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Kuczynski’s visit makes him the first Latin American president to meet with Trump at the White House, according to CNBC. The meeting, which Kuczynski described as “cordial and constructive,” was focused on trade and economic development.
Kuczynski has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s policies for some time now. He once compared Trump’s proposed border wall to the Berlin Wall, saying that he would cut off diplomatic relations with the U.S. “with a saw” if it were actually built.
No matter his remarks, some say that Trump may want to listen to Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker who is now governing a country whose economy has grown substantially over the past several years.
“This is the positive side of the Latin American story that Trump may be unaware of,” Brian Winter, vice president of the regional group Council of the Americas, told CNBC. “Because of his biography, but also the success of Peru, Kuczynski may have more credibility than any other president in Latin America to talk straight to Trump.”
The two also have some personal history as well, according to Trump. He said the two men had known each other for a while and that he was honored to welcome Kuczynski to Washington, according to CNBC.
“Peru has been a fantastic neighbor,” Trump added. “We’ve had great relationships, better now than ever before.”