Donald Trump cancels first Latin America visit to focus on Syria crisis

Aaron Brown
April 12, 2018

President Donald Trump will not attend the Summit of Americas and will instead remain in the USA to "oversee the American response to Syria", the White House announced Tuesday.

Trump was to have travelled to Lima, Peru, on Friday for the Summit of the Americas, and then to Bogota, Colombia, for meetings on Sunday with President Juan Manuel Santos.

The US has strongly opposed the chemical attack and accused Iran and Russian Federation of backing the Syrian government that is being held responsible for carrying out the attack.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed its fact-finding mission is investigating "to establish whether chemical weapons were used". That news caused Trump to lash out at Mueller to reporters late Monday, describing the raid as a criminal act and an "attack on our country".

"Probably after the fact", he said.

Jia declined to comment on Trump's decision not to attend the summit, which would have marked the USA president's first visit to Latin America since taking office last year, but mentioned Chinese president Xi has visited Latin America three times in the past four years. "As if President Trump weren't fully capable of monitoring whatever countermeasures he is planning from Air Force One, an airplane the White House website describes as ".equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center".

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He would not describe the USA response or say when it would come.

"If China doesn't import goods from the United States it's going to import them from other countries ... in that sense the disputes between China and the United States could bring opportunities", said Jia.

The last Summit, held in Panama in April 2015, saw Barack Obama hold a bilateral meeting with Raul Castro - the first time the two countries' leaders had met since the Cuban Revolution. But Mr. Trump's failure to show up in Lima will leave the region less secure about the future of United States-Latin American relations.

"I will stay with my nation to celebrate the failure of the 2002 coup, " Maduro said on Tuesday as broadcast by the state television channel. Maduro was disinvited from the gathering last month, an unusual diplomatic break among Latin American nations that USA analysts consider a positive sign.

Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, strained relationships with leaders like Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto and the rolling back of the Obama administration's opening to Cuba have all hurt USA outreach at a time China, Russia and other nations are gaining influence, US diplomats across the region quietly acknowledge.

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