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Obama: Despite 'heated rhetoric,' US values enduring partnership with Mexico

President Barack Obama(R) meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on July 22, 2016.
Yuri Gripas | AFP | Getty Images
President Barack Obama(R) meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on July 22, 2016.

Standing next to his Mexican counterpart, President Barack Obama jabbed back at Donald Trump on Friday, saying he didn't watch the GOP convention and the U.S. "values tremendously our enduring partnership with Mexico."

"I did not watch the convention, I don't think that's a surprise. ... I've got a lot of stuff to do," Obama said at a White House news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Their meeting came a day after Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican Party's presidential nomination in a speech that painted a grim picture of America.

"Let me start by saying something that is too often overlooked but bears repeating, especially given some of the heated rhetoric that we sometimes hear," Obama said. "The United States values tremendously our enduring partnership with Mexico."

"We're neighbors, and we're friends, and we're family," Obama said.

Obama called Mexico "a critical partner" in confronting such issues as climate change and security.

Obama said that fears raised by speakers at the GOP convention, including the notion of crime running rampant and the contention that America is on the brink of collapse "just don't jive with the facts."

"America is much less violent than it was 20, 30 years ago, and immigration is much less a problem than it was not just 20, 30 years ago, but when I came in as president," he said.

"We're not going to make good decisions based on fears that don't have a basis in fact, and that I think is something that I hope all Americans pay attention to."

Nieto has also been a critic of Trump's proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, telling CNN there is "no way that Mexico can pay [for] a wall like that."

Obama also voiced his disappointment in the Supreme Court's split decision over his executive order on immigration, which resulted in the blocking of his plan aimed at protecting millions of undocumented immigrants.

"It is my firm belief that it will be in the interest of the United States, especially our economic interest, to pursue comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said.

Obama stressed the importance of trade in supporting American jobs, and work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal that Trump says will result in the loss of American jobs.

During the question and answer period, Nieto voiced support for benefits he said have resulted from the North American Free Trade Agreement.