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Trump Not Expected to Meet Castro, Maduro at Summit of Americas


FILE - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, shows a sword of Venezuelan national hero Simon Bolivar to Cuba's President Raul Castro in Caracas, Venezuela, March 5, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump is not expected to meet the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela when he attends the Summit of the Americas next week, according to White House officials. However, there will still be opportunities for interactions between Trump and his Latin and North American counterparts at the two-day summit that begins April 13 in Lima, Peru.

The gathering takes place as Trump finalizes plans to send the military to the U.S. border with Mexico and threatens to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. In addition, Trump's recently imposed steel and aluminum tariffs have sparked criticism from many of the attendees at the summit, though some countries have received temporary exemptions.

Despite all the turbulence, White House officials outlined a fairly traditional agenda for the summit.

"A win for this president at this summit will be a strong speech focused on regional governance, leadership on Venezuela and promoting reciprocal trade," a senior administration official said.

The official would not say whether Trump will continue to "speak his mind" during the summit on sensitive issues such as immigration.

Trump has repeatedly portrayed immigration from South and Central America as both a national security and economic threat. During his presidential campaign, Trump accused Mexico of sending rapists, drug dealers and criminals across the border.

FILE - President Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017.
FILE - President Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017.

Trump has also clashed with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto over the funding of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The president has long insisted that Mexico will pay for the wall.

The disagreement become so heated earlier this year that Pena Nieto canceled plans to visit the White House. It is not clear whether Trump will hold a one-on-one meeting with Pena Nieto during the summit, U.S. officials said.

Cuba, Venezuela

But Trump will not meet with Cuban leader Raul Castro or anyone from the Venezuelan delegation, White House officials said.

"Obviously the Cubans will be participating in the summit, so there will be a mixing of regional leaders, but we don't anticipate at this point a direct meeting between President Trump and Castro."

Trump has taken a more adversarial approach to Cuba, reversing former U.S. president Barack Obama's warming of relations with the Communist government in Havana.

Trump has also enacted sanctions against Venezuela. White House officials said they do not expect any new announcements on sanctions against Venezuela at the summit.

"We expect that President [Nicolas] Maduro will not show up," a senior administration official said, stressing Maduro's absence would be evidence the region is following the U.S. lead in isolating the socialist government.

The U.S. delegation will include Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and senior adviser.

At this point, U.S. officials do not anticipate any discussions on NAFTA at the summit, saying those negotiations will take place separately.

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