Pence to meet with 4 Latin American leaders during summit

FILE - In this March 22, 2018 file photo, Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the America First Policies, "Tax Cuts to Put America First" event in Manchester, N.H. Pence plans to meet with four Latin American leaders during his weekend trip to Peru for an international summit where he is filling in for President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

WASHINGTON - Vice-President Mike Pence plans to meet with four Latin American leaders during his weekend trip to Peru for an international summit where he is filling in for President Donald Trump.

Pence will meet Saturday with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra and President Mauricio Macri of Argentina. The White House said Thursday that the vice-president is also expected to hold a multi-lateral meeting with several Caribbean leaders.

Trump pulled out of the summit to oversee the U.S. response to an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria.

Pence is expected to use the summit to push for a tougher response to what the U.S. considers the rise of dictatorship in Venezuela.

With the White House's support, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been barred from the meeting over his plans to hold a presidential election that the opposition is boycotting and many foreign governments consider a sham. The U.S. has sanctioned Maduro and dozens of top officials, accusing the country of human rights abuses and sliding into a dictatorship.

The vice-president is also expected to try to counter Chinese attempts to increase its economic influence in the Americas. Pence's visit to the region will come as the Trump administration is embroiled in an escalating trade fight with China and as the president has been pushing a tougher line on immigration and seeking stronger protections along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Pence will attend the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, on Friday and Saturday. Trump had planned to attend the summit and also travel to Bogota, Colombia, but backed out after the attack in Syria. The vice-president was having a lunch with congressional leaders on Thursday in advance of his trip.

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On Twitter follow Ken Thomas at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC


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