Trump cancels Latin America trip to focus on Syria




  • In World
  • 2018-04-10 17:58:14Z
  • By ROBERT BURNS, ZEKE MILLER and MATTHEW LEE
 

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday canceled plans to travel to South America this week, choosing to stay home to manage what U.S. officials hope will be an international response to Syria's apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians.

Trump consulted, in person and by phone, with other world leaders, but there was no clear indication of whether he had decided whether or when to use military force to make good on his promise that those responsible for Saturday's suspected poison gas attack would "pay a price" for what he called a heinous violation of international law.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia, as planned, remaining in the United States to "oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world."

The president's new national security adviser, John Bolton, urged Trump to skip the trip, an official said. This reflects a view in the White House that deeper Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria have complicated calculations about a response to any U.S. military attack, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Moscow has cautioned the U.S. not to launch a military attack.

In an Oval Office appearance with the emir of Qatar, Trump made no mention of his intentions in Syria. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said he and Trump "see eye to eye" on Syria. "We cannot tolerate with a war criminal," he said, adding, "This matter should end immediately."

Trump spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May. A British government statement said the two agreed the attack in Syria, which reportedly killed at least 40 people, was "utterly reprehensible" and that the international community must respond "to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons."

Trump's decision to skip the South America trip marks the first time an American president has not attended the summit. Vice President Mike Pence will travel in Trump's place, attending the summit in Lima but not traveling to Colombia.

The international chemical weapons watchdog said it will send "shortly" a fact-finding mission to the Syrian town where the suspected gas attack took place, after receiving a request from the Syrian government and its Russian backers to investigate the allegations. It was not immediately clear whether the announcement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would delay or avert U.S. military action against Syria.

In New York, U.N. Security Council diplomats said the United States called for a vote on a resolution that would condemn the continuing use of chemical weapons in Syria "in the strongest terms" and establish a new body to determine responsibility for chemical attacks. The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement, said the U.S. asked for a midafternoon vote.

Trump on Monday promised a decision on Syria within hours, although he did not say when a decision would be implemented. He declared that Russia or any other nation found to share responsibility for Saturday's apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians will "pay a price."

Amid the tough talk from the White House, the U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, got underway in the eastern Mediterranean on Monday after completing a port call in Cyprus. The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.

Also, the Navy said the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its strike group will depart Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday for a regularly scheduled deployment to Europe. The Navy does not currently have a carrier in the Persian Gulf.

The White House sharply rejected any suggestion that Trump's own words about pulling U.S. troops out of Syria had opened the door for the attack, which killed more than 40 people, including children.

Trump, asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin bore any responsibility, responded, "He may, yeah, he may. And if he does it's going to be very tough, very tough." He added, "Everybody's gonna pay a price. He will. Everybody will."

The Russian military, which has a presence in Syria as a key Assad ally, said its officers had visited the weekend site in a suburb of Damascus, the Syrian capital, and found no evidence to back up reports of poison gas being used. Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, accused Washington of deliberately stoking international tensions by threatening Russia in a tone "beyond the threshold of what is acceptable, even during the Cold War."

Trump said there was little question that Syria was responsible for the apparent weekend attack, although the government of President Bashar Assad denied it.

Emphatic in his condemnation of the apparent gas attack, Trump noted graphic pictures of the dead and sickened, calling the assault "heinous," ''atrocious," ''horrible" and "barbaric."

If Trump decides to proceed quickly, the most likely partner would be France rather than Britain, because of concerns about obtaining permission from Parliament, said an official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the planning publicly and requested anonymity.

___

AP writers Jill Colvin, Ken Thomas, Catherine Lucey, Josh Lederman, Edie Lederer and Jonathan Lemire contributed.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

COMMENTS

More Related News

North Korea says it has suspended nuclear, missile testing
North Korea says it has suspended nuclear, missile testing
  • World
  • 2018-04-20 23:45:51Z

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site.

Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign for allegedly disrupting 2016 election
Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign for allegedly disrupting 2016 election
  • US
  • 2018-04-20 18:01:08Z

The Democratic Party sued Russia, Republican President Donald Trump's campaign and WikiLeaks on Friday, charging that they conspired to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a court filing showed. The party alleges in the federal lawsuit in Manhattan that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and tilt the election to Trump by hacking Democratic Party computers.

In Comey memos, Trump talks of jailed journalists,
In Comey memos, Trump talks of jailed journalists, 'hookers'

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a series of startlingly candid conversations, President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of jailing journalists and described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian prostitutes

Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn
Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn's 'judgment issues'

President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump's chief of staff asked days later if Flynn's communications were being monitored under a secret surveillance warrant, according

Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal Free to Tell Her Trump Story After Settling Lawsuit With American Media
Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal Free to Tell Her Trump Story After Settling Lawsuit With American Media

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal has been freed up to tell her story about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump, after settling a lawsuit with publisher American Media, McDougal said in a statement provided to TheWrap on Wednesday. "I am pleased to have reached a settlement with AMI on my own terms, which restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago," McDougal said. McDougal's attorney, Peter Stris, said in his own statement, "We are glad that AMI has agreed to a settlement that restores Karen's life rights to her, and makes right the wrongs that had been perpetrated against her.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.