US VP Pence thanks Canada for backing Syria strikes, optimistic on NAFTA

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Pence attended the Summit when President Trump canceled his visit as he had to craft an official statement and take an action against the Syrian chemical attack.

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".

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Pence said the U.S. "is ready to sustain the response" until the Syrian regime abandons the use of prohibited chemical agents.

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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.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was barred from attending the summit over his plans to hold a presidential election that the opposition is boycotting and that many foreign governments consider a sham.

But much of his focus involved relationships closer to home.

The discussions on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Peru came as USA officials said they believed they were narrowing differences over a revised North American Free Trade Agreement, 24 years after its inception. The Mexican leader said they will discuss NAFTA and other parts of their relationship involving "cooperation and mutual respect".

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There had been expectations leading up to the meeting that NAFTA would dominate the discussion, particularly after conflicting messages from USA trade officials and President Donald Trump earlier in the week.

President Trump reportedly tried to block Vice President Pence's national security adviser pick because he previously worked on anti-Trump ads for a conservative group. Left unsaid was whether Pence's overtures might eventually lead to a joint Trump-Pena Nieto meeting, their first.

'I think President Pena Nieto understands that he and President Trump have a difference of opinion on that, ' he said.

Shortly before Trump's address to the nation Friday night, Pence was whisked away from the summit in his motorcade so he could return to his hotel to inform congressional leaders of the pending missile strikes.

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The decades-old trilateral trade agreement has been a frequent target of President Trump, who has criticized large trade deficits the USA has with Mexico and Canada, as well as the relocation of American jobs and companies.

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