President Donald Trump pledged Wednesday night to keep the U.S. in the North American Free Trade Agreement, hours after his aides told reporters he was considering issuing a threat to pull out of the 23-year-old pact with Canada and Mexico.
Mr. Trump made the promise in phone calls to his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, the White House said in a statement released late Wednesday.
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The statement was issued after reports of the possible threat of withdrawal shook markets and triggered a fierce campaign by American business leaders and lawmakers to quash the prospects of a withdrawal.
The White House statement said that Mr. Trump spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Both conversations were pleasant and productive," the statement said, adding that "President Trump agreed not to terminate Nafta at this time."
Mr. Trump has vowed since taking office to renegotiate the deal that he has branded "a disaster," and the statement made clear he was sticking with that plan, albeit without the threat of pulling out of the pact altogether.
"The leaders agreed to proceed swiftly..... to enable the renegotiation of the Nafta deal to the benefit of all three countries," the statement said.
After weeks of harsh statements, first about Mexico, then about Canada, Mr. Trump issued a statement praising his counterparts.
"It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau," the statement quoted Mr. Trump as saying, "and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better."
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 26, 2017 23:28 ET (03:28 GMT)