President Bush is on his way to Mar Del Plata, Argentina, to attend the Summit of the Americas, which opens Friday.
Mr. Bush and 31 other democratically elected leaders will discuss ways to boost employment, fight poverty and strengthen democracy throughout the western hemisphere. Two other democratic nations: Panama and Honduras, are sending delegations, but not their head of state.
At the summit, Mr. Bush is expected to push for resumed negotiations on a free trade zone that would encompass North, Central and South America. Mexico has voiced support for the idea, but critics such as Venezuela and Cuba say it will do nothing for the poor.
Mr. Bush is also expected to meet privately with Argentina's president, Nestor Kirchner. After the summit, the U.S. leader will visit Brazil and Panama before returning to Washington Monday.