Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim on Donald Trump: "He's a Negotiator, Not Terminator"

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Carlos Slim (left) and Donald Trump

The telecom mogul on Friday called on his country to unite amid growing tension between Mexico and the U.S. over President Trump's proposed border wall.

Carlos Slim, one of the world's richest men, is urging Mexico to unify ahead of crucial trade and immigration talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S.-Mexico relations have soured this week after President Trump ordered the construction of a border wall and insisted that Mexico will foot the bill, despite Mexico repeatedly saying it will not do so. After the Trump administration suggested that a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports could pay for the wall, Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a planned visit to Washington. 

However, the two leaders spoke on the phone for about an hour on Friday in what Trump described as a "very friendly" exchange, and Pena Nieto called "constructive and productive."

That same day, Slim held a news conference in Mexico City and told reporters he was glad that the two had talked on the phone rather than airing out their differences on Twitter. But Slim said the proposed tariff on Mexican imports was a bad idea because it would only hurt U.S. consumers.

A highly influential businessman who supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Slim heads telecom giant America Movil and its U.S. subsidiary TracFone. He's also the largest single shareholder of The New York Times.

On the campaign trail, Trump called New York Times reporters "corporate lobbyists for Carlos Slim," but when asked Friday if freedom of expression has come under attack in the U.S., Slim said he "doesn't believe so."

Curiously, Slim met Trump for dinner in Florida following the election, a get-together that Trump described as "a lovely dinner with a wonderful man." 

On Friday, Slim said he believed the current situation in the U.S. could be favorable for Mexico, a sentiment most people in the country do not share as they watch the peso plunge and listen to Trump's hard-line positions on trade and immigration.

"He's a negotiator, not Terminator," said Slim.