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White House official explains Trump was being 'lighthearted' when he threatened to send U.S. troops down to Mexico

A White House official insisted Thursday that President Trump was just being "lighthearted" when he threatened to send U.S. troops to Mexico to deal with the "bad hombres down there," during his phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. "I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it," Trump reportedly said on the call last Friday. The official told The Associated Press that comment was simply "part of a discussion about how the United States and Mexico could work collaboratively to combat drug cartels and other criminal elements."

A spokesman for Mexico's presidential office said the conversation was respectful, and denied that Trump threatened military intervention. "It is absolutely false that the president of the United States threatened to send troops to Mexico," the spokesman said. Separately, the Mexican Foreign Relations Department told The Associated Press that the "tone [of the call] was constructive."