Peru opens Americas summit decrying corruption

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Vice President Mike Pence told allies at an worldwide summit in Latin America on Saturday that the USA -led airstrikes on Syria "degraded and crippled" the country's chemical weapons capability. It was an unusual display of cross-party unity.

In the meantime, US Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan held talks with government leaders from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras while attending the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a readout.

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

The U.S. has sanctioned Maduro and dozens of top officials, accusing the country of human rights abuses and sliding into a dictatorship.

"The vast majority of the region's democratic leaders have been so united on addressing the crisis", she said.

Pence is filling in for President Donald Trump, who determined to skip the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, so he may handle the USA response in Syria.

An economic collapse in Venezuela is driving about 100,000 people per month to flee the country controlled by socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence's office had no immediate comment on the mistake.

Unlike past appearances at global summits, the vice president had to dive into the packed agenda on short notice.

"Trump has made it clear the United States will not stand idly by while Venezuela crumbles", he told regional leaders Saturday.

Trump said he is skipping the summit to focus on the USA response to an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria.

"It's not surprising. It shows the priority President Trump gives to Latin America", a Brazilian government source who asked not to be named said. He'll also discuss the influence of Chinese trade in the region.

"We agree to unequivocally reject the presence in Lima, within the framework of the 8th Summit of the Americas Civil Society Forum's preparatory process, of citizens of Cuban origin, and mercenary organizations, at the service of foreign governments and institutions, that have no recognition or legitimacy whatsoever, which seek to overturn the internal order, the social wellbeing, and the political system we have chosen in a sovereign, democratic manner", states the final declaration approved by the 2nd Cuban Civil Society Forum "Thinking America".

He visited Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Panama in August. He'll be subbing for President Donald Trump after the president pulled out of his first planned visit to Latin America to manage the US response to an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria.

Pence pivoted to the US response to the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria as he sought to build support for further isolating Venezuela, which has faced USA sanctions amid a political crisis led by President Nicolas Maduro.

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