Mexican leader, US VP Pence to meet over ties, NAFTA talks

Posted April 16, 2018

Pence thanked Pinera for Chile's help in addressing a political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and for supporting the USA missile strike in Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack by Syria against its citizens last weekend.

For his part, Pence thanked Canada for backing the strikes and echoed Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron in saying Syria's chemical-weapons facilities had been "degraded and crippled".

Pence said they simply had a difference of opinion and some issues were "set aside, for a later date".

Pence also answered questions on the negotiations at the summit of Latin American countries in Peru and said he is very hopeful that the United States, Mexico and Canada were close to a deal on a renegotiated NAFTA trade pact.

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Pence, who was also scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, struck a notably confident tone, saying USA officials "think we're close" and were "encouraged at the progress of our negotiations".

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.

Pence also met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Pence said he was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Mexican president, although he made no reference to Pena Nieto's call for "mutual respect".

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Richard PenceWhy the Summit of the Americas is better off without Trump US needs to respect Latin American leadership on Venezuela crisis Pence endorses challenger in Texas congressional primary runoff MORE on Friday pledged nearly $16 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled a deepening economic and political crisis in the country. 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. He learned only Tuesday that he would be attending in Trump's place so the president could manage the USA response to Syria. The U.S. led a missile strike in Syria earlier Saturday.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was barred from attending the summit over his plans to hold a presidential election that the opposition is boycotting and that many foreign governments consider a sham.

There had been hopes leading up to this weekend's summit that an agreement might be signed, but that did not happen and instead, US negotiators softened their demands on autos even as Trump said he will to renegotiate "forever".

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