US says looking for ways to include voices of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua at summit

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The United States said on Monday it was looking for ways to represent the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua at a summit next month following boycott threats over the exclusion of their governments.

The United States is hosting Latin American leaders in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas from June 6-10, as part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to promote democracy and address migration and climate change.

U.S. officials said they had officially reached out to other countries last week to attend and more invitations may be forthcoming.

“We are still evaluating options on how best to incorporate the voices of the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan peoples into the summit process,” an administration official said.

The State Department has previously expressed confidence in a “robust” attendance in Los Angeles, without disclosing the guest list so far.

Senior US official for Latin America Brian Nichols said earlier that he did not expect invitations for officials from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela because the governments are not respecting the Inter-American Democratic Charter from 2001.

But Cuba was invited to the summits in 2015 in Panama and in 2018 in Peru. Since then, Biden has mostly held in place a reversal by his predecessor Donald Trump of a US overture to the communist-led island.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist, has threatened to boycott the summit if the United States does not invite all the countries.

Since then, the leaders of Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras and the bloc of 14 Caribbean states have also questioned their participation, while Chile has joined in calls for the widest possible participation.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Lopez Obrador raised the issue during virtual talks last week with Chris Dodd, a former U.S. senator, who is Biden’s special adviser for the summit.

“It was a pretty candid conversation,” Ebrard said.

He said the Mexican president had made it clear “there should be no exclusions” and that the region must “enter a new historic stage” of unity like the European Union.

Another question mark is whether Biden will invite Juan Guaido, the opposition leader who Washington considers Venezuela’s legitimate interim president.

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