US VP drops summit banquet, abruptly goes to hotel in Peru

The Latest: Canada leader lauds Pacific trade pact | The News Tribune

Pence's meeting with Pena Nieto will follow Trump's calls to send National Guard troops to the border. Pence had been scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Friday night, and it was not immediately clear if he would still attend.

Pence was whisked away from the Summit of the Americas late Friday so he could inform USA congressional leaders by phone of Trump's plans to announce the missile strikes.

He says President Donald Trump is sending his regrets that he couldn't attend the summit.

A letter written by New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez and 13 Senate colleagues says that Trump's derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants and Haiti are "damaging to critical relationships we need to promote our own national interests".

Vice President Mike Pence says there's a "real possibility" the US could reach a deal with Canada and Mexico on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement "within the next several weeks".

Trudeau said Saturday that there have been "positive momentum" in the NAFTA talks. It said Friday that they will discuss U.S-Mexico relations. During the meeting with four opposition leaders, Pence listened as they described their once-prosperous country devolving into chaos.

President Donald Trump has long assailed the impact of NAFTA on USA workers and insisted on a new round of negotiations with Canada and Mexico on the deal.

Trump and Pena Nieto have yet to meet in person since Trump became president past year. It was an unusual display of cross-party unity.

Later, speaking in a cavernous hall of world leaders at the Summit of the Americas, Pence expressed gratitude to Canada, Colombia and other nations that had voiced support for the strike and urged "every nation in this hemisphere of freedom" to support the military action.

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

Pence says he will be calling on USA allies to provide additional humanitarian aid during the Summit of the Americas in Lima. But he called on the region to take a harder line on Maduro's government, a message he intends to deliver in Brazil next month.

He has said if he's not happy with the terms, then he'll pull the US out.

The funds are through the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Unlike past appearances at global summits, the vice-president had to dive into the packed agenda on short notice. He was meeting with Venezuelan opposition leaders.

Antonio Ledezma, the former mayor of Caracas, pleaded with Pence through a translator to bolster sanctions against Maduro, asking for "not only humanitarian aid but humanitarian intervention". But it comes as US Donald Trump, back in Washington, was reportedly due to address the nation over a response to a suspected poison gas attack in Syria.

The vice president is expected to urge Latin American leaders to maintain pressure on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence will also aim to counter China's attempt to exert more economic influence in the Americas at a time when the Trump administration has been embroiled in a trade dispute with the Chinese. Pence, meanwhile, tends to be more scripted in his exchanges and frequently glanced down at highlighted index cards as he spoke to Latin American leaders here. Trudeau condemned the use of chemical weapons, saying "those responsible must be brought to justice".

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