White House press secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre said officials had spoken to Lopez Obrador and other Latin American leaders more than a month ago, and the administration was not surprised by the announcement. But she said Biden nevertheless felt compelled to take a “principled position” on human rights abuses in the three countries.
Lopez Obrador’s move reflects Biden’s challenges view often The world faces a broad confrontation between democracies and dictatorships.
In an effort to offset the announcement, Jean-Pierre said Lopez Obrador will visit Washington in July to meet Biden directly. She also commended Mexico’s contributions to this week’s summit – which focuses on issues such as democracy, clean energy, politics, migration and recovery from Corona Virus Pandemic – He indicated that the country’s foreign minister would attend.
“It is important to acknowledge that there is a range of opinions on this issue in our hemisphere, as in the United States,” said Jean-Pierre. “The chief’s principled position is that we do not believe that tyrants should be invited, which is why [Mexican] The president decided not to attend.”
During the summit, which officially began on Monday, leaders and others from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean plan to explore the economic and public goals of the Western Hemisphere. But the meeting is also A test of US influence in the regionespecially since Biden’s foreign policy has been largely focused on Europe and Asia.
He devoted much of his attention to Ukraine, which is struggling to defend itself against a Russian invasion. He visited Japan and South Korea last month in an effort to curb China’s growing economic and military power.
Biden has sought to emphasize that his presidency marks a step away from the “America First” policies under President Donald Trump that have treated relationships, particularly in Latin America, as more sympathetic. He has sought to strengthen ties with countries that share American values.
However, this can be a difficult criterion. Biden held a “Summit for Democracy” in December, for example, but invited some countries like Pakistan and the Philippines to do so It barely seemed to qualify.
The United States is hosting the Summit of the Americas for the first time since its inception in 1994, and as the host country, it has ample leeway to beat the official invitees. But the summit exposed regional differences and bilateral tensions.
Many Latin American leaders had already chosen not to attend, including those of Guatemala and Honduras, the Northern Triangle countries that have been at the center of the administration’s efforts to stem illegal immigration. Honduras sends a delegation at a lower level to protest the exclusion.
Jean-Pierre said that 68 delegations and at least 23 heads of government will be represented at the summit, allowing participants to engage in talks on issues of regional importance. “Our attendance will be on par with what we had in the past,” she said. “Yes, we will have these two countries who will not attend, but [Biden] He thinks he needs to stick to his principles.”
However, the decision not to invite the authoritarian triumvirate has opened the United States to criticism about countries being labeled totalitarian pariah states.
Chilean President Gabriel Borek said on Monday that while he would never stop using his voice to “defend human rights,” the United States’ exclusion of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela “wasn’t the right way to go.”
“We think it’s a mistake, and we’ll say it during the summit,” he told reporters in Ottawa at a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
He added that this disdain could backfire, allowing excluded leaders to cite it as evidence of US hostility. “When the United States claims to exclude certain countries from the summit, it is actually reinforcing the position that these other countries are taking in their own countries,” Borek said.
Trudeau added that “it is very important that we have the opportunity to engage with our fellow hemisphere partners – some like-minded, some less like-minded.” He did not explicitly say whether he agreed with the exclusion of the three countries, but noted that Ottawa has a long-standing approach to Cuba that differs from Washington’s.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Jean-Pierre faced questions about why the United States continues to do business with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince is accused of being the architect of the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Saudi dissidents been angry With reports that Biden is planning a presidential trip to Saudi Arabia without demanding accountability for Khashoggi’s murder or human rights improvements.
In March, the Biden White House sent a delegation to discuss energy sanctions with Venezuela, another country with large oil reserves. The meeting took place weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, as the administration sought to mitigate the political and economic impact of the soaring gas prices. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime An international criminal court is investigating for crimes against humanity.
Senator Robert Menendez (DNJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he is pleased that the administration is ruling out “tyrannical thugs,” but that Lopez Obrador’s absence “unfortunately will hamper efforts to continue to reform the relationship and to cooperate on issues related to the well-being of our two countries.”
Lopez accused Obrador of choosing to stand “with tyrants and tyrants over representing the interests of the Mexican people on top with their partners from all over the hemisphere”.
But Jean-Pierre stressed that the US relationship with Mexico had not changed, saying: “We see them as friends.”
Amanda Coletta contributed to this report.
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