Pence to press hard line on Venezuela, promote United States trade

The Latest: Cuba's Raul Castro skips Summit of the Americas

The Latest: Cuba's Raul Castro skips Summit of the Americas

Maduro was not invited to take part in the summit, which began on Friday but was overshadowed by Pence's calls for sanctions and US-led strikes in Syria, which caused the vice president to abruptly leave the opening ceremony.

About 20 leaders from North, Central and South America have begun arriving in Lima, Peru for the eighth Summit of the Americas.

No reason was given for the sudden departure.

Latin American leaders were to hear Saturday from Pence about President Donald Trump's decision to join with Britain and France in the military operation intended as a response to a suspected chemical attack last weekend.

On Wednesday, Trump spurred that speculation himself by taunting Russian Federation over possible action in Syria, which Moscow has been giving diplomatic and military support to.

A Pence aide said Pence planned to meet with Pena Nieto early Saturday, with the get-together only being finalized late on Friday.

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has opened the Summit of the Americas by decrying the scourge of corruption in Latin America.

The U.S. vice president says Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship.

Pence urged the extra measures as he met with Venezuelan opposition figures in Lima who called for more sanctions and "intervention" in their crisis-hit country. The vice president called Maduro's government a "dictatorship" and said the US would continue to push a hard line against the country's leadership.

Pence is filling in for President Donald Trump at the Summit of the Americas in Lima after the president pulled out to focus on the US response to an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria. He'll be subbing for President Donald Trump after the president pulled out of his first planned visit to Latin America to manage the US response to an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence are set to meet on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas during a tense time for their governments.

Mexico also is taking part in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the USA and Canada due to demands for changes from Trump.

In a series of meetings with Latin American leaders, Pence plans to promote good governance and democratic institutions and urge allies to maintain pressure on Maduro.

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 Friday in Peru's capital.

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