By Seung Min Kim
President Trump plans to attend the Summit of the Americas gathering next month in Peru, the White House announced Saturday — a visit that may underscore tensions in the region over the administration’s policies on immigration and trade.
The trip will also mark Trump’s first visit to Latin America as president, and the White House said he will participate in “bilateral, multilateral and cultural engagements.” He plans to meet with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and after the summit, Trump will head to Colombia to meet with that country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos.
“This travel demonstrates the President’s resolve to deepen our historical ties with our partners in the region and to strengthen our joint commitment to improve security and prosperity for the people of the Americas,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
She added: “The President is looking forward to meeting with partners and allies who share our values and believe that the promise of a safe and prosperous future rests in strong democracies, fair and reciprocal trade, and secure borders.”
Throughout his administration, Trump has rankled allies in the region with his hard-line rhetoric and policy views, particularly his continued insistence on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration into the United States.
Trump also announced this week that he will impose tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, although the decision initially exempts Canada and Mexico as the nations renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Still, Trump’s move on tariffs significantly affects other U.S. allies in the Americas, including Brazil, which is among the top four exporters of steel to the United States.
The summit, which began under the Clinton administration, is held every three years and includes the heads of state in the Western Hemisphere. This year’s summit will be held April 13-14 in Lima.
The Washington Post, ww.washingtonpost.com