LIMA, Peru >> The Latest on the Summit of the Americas (all times local):
>> 3:55 P.M.
Cuban President Raul Castro has joined a growing list of foreign leaders skipping the Summit of the Americas.
After President Donald Trump bailed on the summit to stay in Washington, and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela was barred, Castro was expected to dominate the meeting of Western Hemisphere leaders that kicks off today in Peru’s capital.
Cuba’s government in a statement Friday said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez would instead lead the Cuban delegation. Although Castro never officially confirmed he would attend the summit, there were high expectations he would show to bid farewell to regional leaders as he prepares to step down in a week’s time from the presidency.
Dozens of pro-Castro supporters were also present in Lima and on Thursday raucously interrupted a meeting to protest what they consider Cuba’s mistreatment by the Washington-based Organization of American States.
>> 1:20 P.M.
Mexico’s president says “the door is open” for the United States to join a Pacific Rim trade deal that was initially rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday told business leaders meeting in Peru’s capital that under the right conditions the U.S. would reconsider joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite Trump’s earlier decision to back away from an initial deal.
Today, Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto told the CEOs that the U.S. is welcome to “eventually reconsider its decision and take advantage of the opportunity to be part of the TPP.”
The deal was meant to create a sweeping trade bloc and help counterbalance China’s economic influence. After the U.S. pulled out, 11 countries reached a revised deal last month that dropped some clauses that had been meant to benefit the United States.
Mexico also is taking part in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada due to demands for changes from Trump.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is praising a Pacific Rim trade deal that may have prompted a change of heart from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trudeau spoke at a meeting of hemispheric CEOs on Friday and celebrated the fact that several countries in the hemisphere have shared his government’s vision that free trade agreements unlock tangible benefits and middle-class jobs.
He said the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is “an ambitious trade deal that puts people first.”
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday told the business leaders that under the right conditions the U.S. would reconsider joining the TPP, despite Trump’s earlier decision to back away from an initial deal.
After the U.S. pulled out, 11 countries reached a revised deal last month that dropped some clauses that had been meant to benefit the United States.
>> 11:20 P.M.
Senate Democrats are urging Vice President Mike Pence to use his trip to Lima to reset relations with a region where they say President Donald Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric is costing the U.S. influence.
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.”
The letter also chastises the Trump administration for deep cuts in foreign aid, ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for so-called “Dreamers” and for its decision to plow ahead with plans to build a wall on the border of Mexico. The letter blames those policies for declining support for the U.S. in the region at a time China and Russia are making important inroads.
The senators encourage Trump to drop an “America First” policy they say is divisive “and embrace instead an ‘Americas together’ policy.” They say that would “advance our strategic interests in the Western Hemisphere, engage our neighbors in a respectful manner, and build on our shared values.”
A copy of the letter was provided to the Associated Press.