Trump Skips South American Summit to Focus on Syria

Much has changed since Obama’s December 2014 decision to pursue détente with Havana

Trump was scheduled to attend the April 13-14 Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, and travel to Bogota, Colombia, but he has requested Vice President Mike Pence to attend in his place, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

In a brief statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the President would stay in the U.S. and oversee America's response to a suspected and deadly chemical attack in Syria, "and to monitor developments around the world". In that time, however, he has undertaken more distant trips to Europe, Asia and the Middle East on several occassions.

Since Trump has spoken to him twice since the chemical attack by the Assad regime to talk strategy, French President Emmanuel Macron will likely play a large role in the American government's response to the crisis.

The trip, set to begin on Friday, would have been Trump's first visit to Latin America since taking office, the Washington Post reported. Also, his position on immigration and recent comments against countries in the area considered offensive augured another reason for disagreement in the forum.

Trump also faces domestic pressure, over an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on the office of his attorney, Michael Cohen. He would not describe the US response or say when it would come.

More news: Man already wanted for robbery arrested in separate case

Trump said Monday he would "forcefully" respond to the weapons attack in Syria and would soon decide how. Trump oversaw that response from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump found himself consumed by the Cohen raids Monday, fuming in private as well as going on a tirade about the "witch hunt" in front of reporters.

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. "I don't like talking about timing", he said. He can work on his relationship with South America later, when he can stomach meeting its leaders.

Trump had been expected to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, among other leaders, although the White House had announced no specific meetings.

Many Latin American leaders had hoped to have their first face-to-face encounter with the US President.

"He looks forward to promoting policy that will lead to an even stronger US economy and working with our close allies in Latin America to collectively hold undemocratic actors in the region accountable for their actions", said Jarrod Agen, Pence's deputy chief of staff and communications director.

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