Понедельник, 28 Мая, 2018

Pence to take hard line on Venezuela, promote trade

Vice President Pence speaks in Washington Vice President Pence speaks in Washington
Sammy Stanley | 15 Апреля, 2018, 07:27

US Vice President Mike Pence abruptly left a banquet late Friday hosted by his Peruvian counterpart ahead of the start of a two-day summit with Latin American leaders and went back to his Lima hotel, reporters travelling with him said.

For Pence, the calls and schedule changes served as the latest example of his supporting role here in place of Trump, who pulled out of the summit so he could manage the USA response to the suspected chemical attack in Syria.

Dozens of pro-Castro supporters were also present in Lima and on Thursday raucously interrupted a meeting to protest what they consider Cuba's mistreatment by the Washington-based Organization of American States.

The vice president announced that the USA would provide almost $16 million in humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans who have fled their country under the rule of President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence is planning to meet in Lima with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but the White House said no meetings were scheduled with members of the Mexican delegation. His VP is expected to push leaders for a stronger response to what the Trump administration is calling the rise of dictatorship in Venezuela.

The total US humanitarian response to the Venezuela crisis comes to more than $21 million since the 2017 fiscal year.

Relations between the countries have also been strained amid mysterious sonic attacks that US diplomats in Havana say have left them with ailments including headaches, hearing problems and concussions.

Pence took Trump's place at the summit so the president could remain in the U.S.to manage the response to the apparent chemical attack by Syria.

Seeking rapprochement with Mexico, which has been at odds with Trump over the border wall and immigration, Pence said the topic of Trump's long-promised border wall did not come up in his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

In the past week, Trump has threatened to slap more tariffs on Chinese goods, said he was in no hurry to reach a deal on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and ordered his advisors to study rejoining the TPP.

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"Cuban civil society will not share any space with mercenary elements or organizations that are financed from overseas, responding to the interests of a foreign power, with a clear agenda of subversion and violence", stated Yamila González Ferrer, vice president of Cuba's National Union of Jurists, and a representative to Coalition 15 of the so-called Hemispheric Dialogue, an event held prior to the 8th Summit of the Americas.

The White House said on Thursday that the United States vice president is also expected to hold a multilateral meeting with several Caribbean leaders.

Pence met with Julio Borges, a Venezuelan opposition lawmaker and former speaker of the National Assembly, David Smolansky, former mayor of the city of El Hatillo, Carlos Vecchio, political coordinator of the Popular Will party he co-founded with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, and Antonio Ledezma, former mayor of Caracas.

Pence urged Maduro to accept humanitarian aid as the once-prosperous nation deals with humanitarian and economic crises.

The summit in Peru is a once-every-three-years meeting of leaders from across Latin America, the USA and Canada.

"The vast majority of the region's democratic leaders have been so united on addressing the crisis", she said.

Yet the timing of the trade pitch will be delicate.

Richard Feinberg, a senior fellow in the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution, said it would be hard for the U.S.to make a case to become the "preferential trading partner" as Trump seeks to upend trade agreements.

Trump had lambasted the accord during his presidential campaign, and pulled the United States out of the deal shortly after taking office.

Seated alongside Trudeau, Pence said there was a "real possibility" the US could reach a deal with Canada and Mexico on NAFTA "within the next several weeks".

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