Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a veterans group Thursday that Mexican-Americans have made “tremendous contributions” to the United States, including service in the armed forces.

Mr. Trump said at an American Legion convention in Cincinnati that he just came back from a “wonderful meeting” with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Wednesday.

“I expressed my deep respect for the people of his country and for the tremendous contributions of Mexican-Americans in our country,” Mr. Trump said. “And they have made tremendous contributions.”

“Many are in our armed services — you know how good they are,” he said.

“I want to again thank him for his gracious hospitality, and express my belief that we can work together to accomplish great things for both countries — that’s Mexico and the United States,” Mr. Trump said.

“We agreed in the meeting on the need to stop the illegal flow of guns, drugs, cash and people across the border and to take out the cartels,” Mr. Trump said. “Our country is being poisoned.”

He said they also talked about the importance of working to keep jobs and wealth “in our hemisphere.”

“A more prosperous Mexico means fewer illegal border crossings, and a better market for products made in the United States,” he said.

In the speech, Mr. Trump also reaffirmed his plans to revamp the Department of Veterans Affairs and allow veterans to seek the health care of their choice.

“The veterans health system will remain a public system, because it is, after all, a public trust,” he said. “But never again will we allow any veteran to suffer or die waiting for care.”

He also said pledged to stop “apologizing” for America, and start “celebrating” America.

“We will be united by our common culture, values and principles — becoming one American nation,” he said. “One country, under one Constitution, saluting one American flag.”