The Latest: Pence informed US leaders of Syria announcement

Mike Pence, Martin Vizcarra
The Associated Press

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Latin America (all times local):

9:20 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence informed congressional leaders of President Donald Trump’s plans to announce airstrikes in Syria.

Pence’s deputy chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, says Pence called House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi before Trump’s speech Friday night. Pence is in Lima, Peru, to attend the Summit of the Americas and called the leaders from his hotel room.

Agen says Pence was unable to reach Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer before the speech but planned to speak to him afterward.

Pence spoke to Trump shortly after the president’s address to the nation.

The vice president plans to attend a banquet hosted by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra later Friday.

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8:35 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was at his hotel in Lima, Peru, when President Donald Trump announced retaliatory airstrikes in Syria for an apparent chemical weapon attack there last weekend.

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.

The president announced that the U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians. Loud explosions lit up the skies over the Syrian capital, Damascus, as Trump announced the airstrikes.

Pence had been scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Friday night, and it was not immediately clear if he would still attend.

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7:55 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has unexpectedly left the start of an international summit in Peru and been whisked off to his hotel.

The move came shortly before President Donald Trump is expected to address the U.S. on Friday night amid anticipation of a retaliatory strike for an apparent Syrian chemical weapon attack last weekend that killed more than 40 people.

Pence had been scheduled to attend a banquet later Friday hosted by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra. It was not immediately clear if he would still attend.

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7:10 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has met with a Cuban opposition leader along the sidelines of an international summit in Peru.

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

President Donald Trump has partially rolled back former President Barack Obama’s diplomatic opening with the communist island.

Relations between the countries have also been strained amid mysterious sonic attacks that U.S. diplomats in Havana say have left them with ailments including headaches, hearing problems and concussions.

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5:55 p.m.

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.

Pena Nieto’s office says in a statement that the meeting will take place Saturday morning in Lima, Peru, where the summit is taking place. It said Friday that they will discuss U.S-Mexico relations.

It will be the first meeting between the two leaders.

Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump directed the deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to combat illegal migration and drug smuggling.

That decision was condemned last week by Pena Nieto and opposing candidates for this year’s Mexican presidential election. It was an unusual display of cross-party unity.

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4:55 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States stands with Venezuelans fleeing the rule of President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence said in a meeting Friday with Venezuelan opposition leaders in Lima, Peru, that “we are with you to see freedom once again.”

The vice president says Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship and has brought about “abject misery.”

Pence says he will be calling on U.S. allies to provide additional humanitarian aid during the Summit of the Americas in Lima.

Pence says, “We want one message to be clear: We are with the people of Venezuela.”

Opposition leader David Smolansky says Maduro’s government “has become a threat to the region.”

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4:40 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. will provide nearly $16 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled their country during the political crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence said Friday in Lima, Peru, that the aid will help Venezuelans in Colombia and Brazil access safe drinking water, shelters, and work and educational opportunities.

The U.S. vice president says Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship. He says, “We want one message to be clear: We are with the people of Venezuela.”

The funds are through the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Pence is in Lima for an international summit. He was meeting with Venezuelan opposition leaders. They include National Assembly President Julio Borges and former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma.

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3:05 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Peru for a Latin American summit at which he’s expected to push a tough line on Venezuela and point to the U.S. as an ideal trading partner in the region.

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 U.S. response to an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria.

The vice president is expected to urge Latin American leaders to maintain pressure on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He’ll also discuss the influence of Chinese trade in the region.

Pence is expected to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

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12:20 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence plans to promote the U.S. as a steady trading partner and press Latin American partners to further isolate Venezuela during his weekend trip to Peru.

Pence is departing for the Summit of the Americas in Lima on Friday. He’ll be subbing for President Donald Trump after the president pulled out of his first planned visit to Latin America to manage the U.S. response to an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria.

In meetings with Latin American leaders, the vice president is expected to promote good governance and democratic institutions. He’s also expected to urge Latin American allies to maintain pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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