US President Donald Trump has decided to skip his plans to travel to South America to oversee the US’ response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, the White House announced on Tuesday. The US President had been scheduled to make his maiden trip to Latin America for the eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima and travel to Colombia.
Vice-president Mike Pence will attend the summit in his place, but will not go to Colombia, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Pence looks forward to promoting policy that will lead to an even stronger US economy and working with our close allies in Latin America to collectively hold undemocratic actors in the region accountable for their actions,” his spokesperson Jarrod Agen said.
The latest development came after an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria, killing dozens of women and children. Trump has vowed to respond “forcefully,” warning that Russia or any other nation found to share responsibility will “pay a price.”
The US has strongly opposed the chemical attack, accusing Iran and Russia of backing the Syrian government that is being held responsible for carrying out the attack.
Last year, Pence had traveled to the South America to meet with the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Panama to increase the pressure against the Maduro regime and negotiate better trade deals that benefit American workers.
“While there, the Vice President met with a number of Venezuelan dissidents. Vice President Pence also hosted the Northern Triangle Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America as well. Next month, the Vice President will continue to advance US policies and commitment to the region when he travels to Brazil,” Agen said.