Pence praises Peru's stand on Venezuelan crisis

US VP Mike Pence skips Peru banquet as Donald Trump announces Syria strikes

Pence was attending the Summit of the Americas on Friday before being whisked away from the gathering and to his hotel shortly before Trump's address to the nation.

While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced strong support for the air strikes by the United States, France and Britain, several Latin American nations including Brazil, Argentina and Peru expressed caution about the escalating military action. Loud explosions lit up the skies over the Syrian capital, Damascus, as Trump announced the airstrikes.

Pence told reporters after meeting with the leaders of both countries at a summit in Lima, Peru, on Saturday that he'll leave the summit "very hopeful that we are very close" to a deal that will be better for the U.S.

Hours after Trump hailed the missile strike targeting the Syria's suspected chemical weapons - tweeting, "Mission Accomplished!" It was not immediately clear if he would still attend.

Cuban President Raul Castro has joined a growing list of foreign leaders skipping the Summit of the Americas.

Pence told Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo on Friday that the Trump administration stands with the Cuban people.

Under former U.S. President Barack Obama, the TPP had been pitched as a way to secure an edge over China in a fast-growing region that includes large swaths of Latin America.

Seated alongside Trudeau, Pence said there was a "real possibility" the US could reach a deal with Canada and Mexico on NAFTA "within the next several weeks".

Venezuela's two most popular opposition leaders are banned from competing and electoral authorities are stacked with government supporters.

Pence's meeting with Pena Nieto will follow Trump's calls to send National Guard troops to the border.

On Thursday, Trump ordered his top economic advisers to study rejoining the TPP, a multilateral trade deal he once called the "rape" of the country that he withdrew the United States from previous year in one of his first acts as president. It was an unusual display of cross-party unity.

Pence deputy chief of staff Jarrod Agen says Pence had been told he'd be the last speaker of the plenary session in Lima, Peru.

"Everyone who attacks Venezuela ends up losing; the Summit of the Americas has been a complete failure", said Maduro, whose invitation to the April 13 and 14 conference was rescinded by Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

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Vice President Mike Pence's office says the vice president walked out of the Summit of the Americas when Cuba's foreign minister was recognized to speak after him.

Opposition leader David Smolansky says Maduro's government "has become a threat to the region".

"The US and our allies, I believe, are prepared to do much more", Pence said, accusing Maduro of "refusing humanitarian aid to be delivered to Venezuela".

Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the prospect in February that this could be broadened to restrict Venezuela's exports of crude oil and its imports of U.S. refined products.

As opposed to past looks at global summits, the vice president needed to dip to the crowded agenda on small note.

Sixteen countries at the meeting issued a declaration calling for transparent elections in Venezuela and on worldwide organizations to "immediately implement a program of humanitarian assistance".

The summit in Peru is a once-every-three-years meeting of leaders from across Latin America, the U.S. and Canada.

Pence had been sent to the Summit of the Americas in the capital, Lima, in place of President Donald Trump, who made a decision to focus on a response to a suspected poison gas attack in Syria that killed at least 60 people last week.

While President Donald Trump has vowed to scrap NAFTA and pull out of trade agreements as part of his America First policy, most of the region has been moving in the opposite direction.

Vice President Mike Pence says there's a "real possibility" the US could reach a deal with Canada and Mexico on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement "within the next several weeks".

The summit was overshadowed by the absence of Trump, who canceled his attendance to deal with the US response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

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.

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