Syria strikes hot topic at Summit of Americas


The prominent political scientist was shocked by the presence at the Summit of Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, a man he said heads a government characterized by a radical incompatibility of interests in officials who are ministers and at the same time are managers of large worldwide corporations.

Speaking at the eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima, Pence described Venezuela - and Cuba - as countries where "the tragedy of tyranny is in full display".

For the first time, the United States backed a statement by heads of state from the Lima Group of nations - established previous year to seek a peaceful end to Venezuela's political turmoil - which called on Maduro to release political prisoners and hold free elections.

Pence said there was a "real possibility" that "we could arrive at an agreement within the next several weeks on a renegotiated NAFTA that would be a better deal for the American people".

"When the left-wing governments were the majority in the region, we maintained a dialogue of diversity with right-wing governments", said Maduro.

The president announced that the U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians.

Peru's President Martin Vizcarra meets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner during a bilateral meeting at the VIII Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru April 14, 2018.

Relations between the USA and Cuba have regressed after a thaw during former President Barack Obama's administration. Left unsaid was whether Pence's overtures might eventually lead to a joint Trump-Pena Nieto meeting, their first.

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Pence said Saturday in a meeting with Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra at the Summit of the Americas in Lima that he's grateful for Vizcarra's role in withdrawing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's invitation to the summit.

Pence's to-do list included smoothing over differences with Mexico, America's southern neighbor, amid unease over Trump's decision to send troops to the border and harsh rhetoric on immigration.

Vice President Mike Pence says the USA will provide almost $16 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled their country during the political crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.

"Canada stands with our friends in this necessary response, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week's attack", Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the gathering of regional leaders.

Pence said Friday in Lima, Peru, that the aid will help Venezuelans in Colombia and Brazil access safe drinking water, shelters, and work and educational opportunities. He learned only Tuesday that he would be attending in Trump's place so the president could manage the USA response to Syria.

Mexico also is taking part in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the US and Canada due to demands for changes from Trump.

Pence, who is representing the United States at the Summit of the Americas in place of President Donald Trump, said he hoped that the military action, which also involved France and Great Britain, would cause Syria "and their patrons in Russian Federation and Iran" to abandon "the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians".

The summit gave an chance to press far more isolation of Venezuela and on the case for sanctions across the region to Pence.