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In Peru, Pence defends Syria military strike

16 April 2018
In Peru, Pence defends Syria military strike

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday he was leaving a summit of Latin American countries in Peru very hopeful that the United States, Mexico and Canada were close to a deal on a renegotiated NAFTA trade pact.

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".

As for next steps for the summit, Pence said the USA would be submitting a bid to host the ninth Summit of the Americas and repeated a familiar line about the Trump doctrine: "America First does not mean America alone".

This comes two months after an attempt to schedule a meeting in Washington between Pena Nieto and the U.S. president was called off due to Trump's harsh rhetoric regarding NAFTA and immigration.

He also mentioned security threats including drugs, gangs, "migrants feeling hardship and oppression in their homelands", and said there were "real challenges for security at our borders", including terrorists crossing into the U.S.

Pence held brief bilateral talks with the leaders of Mexico and Canada on Saturday about the state of play in their NAFTA renegotiations, saying he was "encouraged" by recent progress towards a deal.

"The objective of the mission the commander in chief gave our military forces and our allies was completely accomplished — with swift professionalism", Pence told reporters, noting there were "no reported civilian casualties".

VP Pence called the USA led airstrikes on Syria a success.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to kill NAFTA if it is not changed to secure better terms for USA workers and companies. The allied strike on Friday was prompted by a suspected chemical attack in a suburb of Damascus last week that left dozens dead.

He says President Donald Trump is sending his regrets that he couldn't attend the summit.

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday called U.S. led airstrikes on Syria a completely accomplished mission while in Peru to renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact.

In condemning the US-led attack, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insisted on Saturday that the missile strikes would only strengthen his nation's resolve to keep its fight against Western-backed terror groups and "crush terrorism in every inch of the nation".

Pence was whisked away from the Summit of the Americas late Friday so he could inform US congressional leaders by phone of Trump's plans to announce the missile strikes.