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Trump cancels trip to the Summit of the Americas and Colombia

Trump cancels trip to the Summit of the Americas and Colombia

U.S President Donald Trump on Tuesday cancelled a visit to Peru and Colombia this week to oversee the USA response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday that Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as planned.

The White House said Wednesday U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the summit on behalf of Trump.

This will be the second trip to the region for Pence, who met with leaders in Colombia, Argentina and Panama in August. Syria and Russian Federation have denied there was a chemical weapons attack and have proposed worldwide inspections.

Pence will officially fill in for Trump and carry White House talking points, but Pence, though he has visited the region, has not demonstrated a deep interest in the area, said Benjamin Gedan, who served as Latin America director at the NSC under Obama.

Trump's meetings with heads of state from the hemisphere had been expected to be tense because of his divisive rhetoric and fraught relationships with leaders such as Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

CNBC also spoke to Sergio Montenegro, who works in Lima, and he compared Trump with some populist leaders who came to power in Latin America.

No one can replace the president, but the other 30 or so Latin American leaders at the summit know that Rubio has Trump's ear and is seen as the president's principal adviser on Western Hemisphere issues, particularly those involving Venezuela and Cuba. The regional survey Latinobarometro said Latin Americans last year viewed Trump more unfavorably than they did George W. Bush or Cuba's Fidel Castro in the year of his death.

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Trump's absence will speak volumes, said leading Peruvian lawyer Jose Ugaz. The raid was separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Options include the sort of largely symbolic airstrike Trump ordered a year ago in response to a similar chemical attack blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or a wider and riskier assault.

The White House did not respond to requests for a response.

The U.S. response to Syria also disrupted the travel plans of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who canceled a weekend trip to Nevada and San Francisco.

Pence has been among the most vocal Maduro critics, and he is now expected to criticize Maduro at the summit.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri also said Venezuela would top the agenda in Peru. Maduro, who was not invited to the summit, will crash the gathering and spark a protocol meltdown in the way the Venezuela's then-foreign minister had done at a Buenos Aires meeting of the Mercosur trade bloc in 2016.

Jorge Castro, head of the Institute of Strategic Planning (IPE) in Argentina, said Trump cancellation of the visit "is quite revealing, it shows the USA priorities are elsewhere".


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