Latin America unfazed by Trump bypassing summit

U.S. President Donald Trump | Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump | Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Trump canceled his plans to travel to South America later this week, choosing to stay in Washington to manage the USA response to an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria. "It was terrible", Trump said at the start of a Cabinet meeting that was one of several White House gatherings Monday where possible military action was discussed.

The statement seemed to have taken some officials by surprise - Mr. Pence will travel to the summit in his place, but will not go to Colombia.

Trump has reversed some of President Barack Obama's diplomatic and economic outreach to Cuba, including pulling many US diplomats out of the country following unexplained health attacks on Americans a year ago.

The trip, set to begin on Friday, would have been Trump's first visit to Latin America since taking office, the Washington Post reported.

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Trump had planned to use the summit to seek consensus on how to handle the crisis in Venezuela, and press for better trade deals with countries in the region.

President Trump cancelled a trip to South America that was to have begun on Friday, the White House announced on Tuesday, citing the crisis in Syria as Trump fumed publicly about Federal Bureau of Investigation raids targeting his personal lawyer. Colombia is an important USA ally in the fight against the drug trade.

A regional survey by respected Chilean pollster Latinobarometro said Latin Americans last year viewed Trump even more unfavorable than they did George W. Bush or Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the year of his death.

"As you work for change, the United States will stand up alongside you every step of the way".

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While Trump has vowed to scrap NAFTA and pull out of trade agreements as part of his America First policy, most of the region has been moving in the opposite direction.

When speaking on Monday, Trump stated that "nothing is off the table", in dealing with Syria following the chemical attack.

The Syrian government is blamed for a chemical weapons attack on its own people that the president called an "attrocity". Currently, the U.S. has approximately 2,000 ground troops in Syria.

Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, advocated that Trump stay in Washington in the aftermath of the attack, said one of the officials.

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On Monday, President Trump said the U.S. would respond in 24-48 hours to the latest suspected chemical weapons strike in Syria. "The question though is what it means for USA leadership, not just now but over the long term".

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