South Korea says senior officials from the country may visit North Korea ahead of a summit between the South’s President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if more high-level talks are deemed necessary.
A senior South Korean official said on Tuesday that the two Koreas were discussing the wording of a possible joint statement to be released at the summit, which is due on April 27.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and general inter-Korean relations are likely to top the agenda for the meeting, Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, said.
Back in March, South Korea’s national security adviser and intelligence chief said after meeting Kim in Pyongyang that the North Korean leader was committed to denuclearizing and had expressed a willingness to meet US President Donald Trump.
“Even though our special envoys confirmed his denuclearization will, it is entirely different if the two leaders confirm it directly among themselves and put that into text,” Im told reporters. “We expect the summit will confirm the denuclearization will (of North Korea).”
The official stressed that economic cooperation between the Koreas were unlikely to be included in any joint statement.
Meanwhile, South Korea said that a hotline between the leaders of the two countries could be operational by April 20.
Seoul also noted that it would discuss with the North live coverage of the inter-Korean summit, the first to be held since 2007.
Inter-Korean relations have improved following the Winter Olympics, held in the South in February, in which the North also participated, starting a rapprochement.
The two neighbors have been separated by a heavily-militarized border since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula were running high last year. Pyongyang advanced its weapons program as the US took an increasingly war-like posture toward North Korea. But Kim expressed sudden interest in the resolution of disagreements with the South on New Year’s Day, and a series of overtures began.

 

The Syrian army began preparatory shelling for an assault on the last area outside its control near Damascus on Tuesday, a commander in the pro-government alliance said, building on its recent capture of the major suburb of eastern Ghouta.
Recovering the Yarmouk camp and neighboring areas located south of the city would give President Bashar al-Assad complete control over Syria’s capital, further consolidating his grip on power.
Yarmouk, Syria’s biggest camp for Palestinian refugees since the mid-20th century, has been under the control of Islamic State fighters for several years. Although the vast majority of residents have fled, the United Nations says thousands remain.
Assad has benefited from Russian air power since 2015 to regain large swathes of Syria, putting him in his strongest position since the early months of the seven-year-old war.
The war has killed more than 500,000 people and has drawn in regional and global powers. The United States, Britain and France launched their first coordinated strikes against Assad’s government on Saturday in retaliation for what they say was a poison gas attack on April 7 that killed scores of residents in Douma, the last town in the eastern Ghouta to fall.
The Western missiles destroyed three targets that had been evacuated in advance, but did nothing to alter the wider course of the war, leaving Assad’s Russian-backed forces still on the offensive with the goal of recapturing the entire country.
Damascus and Moscow have both denied using poison gas and have broadcast statements from hospital workers in Douma - which medical aid groups operating in rebel areas have dismissed as propaganda - saying that no chemical attack took place.
A team of international chemical weapons inspectors that arrived in Damascus on Friday has still not visited Douma to gather evidence, though Russia said it would do so on Wednesday.
Syrian state media reported that missiles had again targeted an airbase overnight, but a commander in the regional military alliance backing the government later told Reuters it was a false alarm.
The commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new offensive would target Islamic State and Nusra Front militants in Yarmouk camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad district. Rebels in the adjoining Beit Sahm area would withdraw on buses through an agreement with the government, the commander said.
A government media tour on Monday of Douma, the biggest town in the former rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta just outside Damascus, revealed severe destruction and the plight of residents who had survived years of siege.
The assault on eastern Ghouta began in February and ended in government victory on Saturday when rebels withdrew from the town, hours after the Western countries were finished with their air strikes on buildings they said were used to research or store chemical weapons and equipment.
Each of the rebel groups controlling areas of eastern Ghouta eventually agreed surrender deals that involved withdrawal to opposition-held areas of northwestern Syria including Idlib.
After the recapture of eastern Ghouta, Assad still has several smaller pockets of ground to recover from rebels, as well as two major areas they hold in the northwest and southwest.
Besides the pocket south of Damascus, rebels still hold besieged enclaves in the town of Dumayr northeast of Damascus, in the Eastern Qalamoun mountains nearby, and around Rastan north of Homs.
The pro-government commander said the army had prepared for military action in the Eastern Qalamoun, but that Russia was working on the militants’ withdrawal without a battle. State television said on Tuesday that rebels in Dumayr had also agreed to withdraw.
In northwest Syria, the largest area still held by rebels, a government assault could bring Damascus into confrontation with Turkey, which has set up a string of military observation posts in the area.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top Iranian official, said during a visit to Damascus last week that he hoped that the army would soon regain Idlib and areas of eastern Syria now held by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by Washington.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Iranian Presiden Hassan Rouhani that further attacks by Western allies in Syria would inevitably lead to chaos in international relations.
In a phone conversation on Sunday, the two leaders agreed that "this illegal action seriously damages the prospects for a political settlement in Syria," Russian news agency RIA quoted the Kremlin press service as saying.
Putin and Rouhani were discussing the situation in Syria after the United States, France and Britain launched coordinated attacks on Syria's alleged chemical facilities.
"Putin stressed that if such actions, committed in violation of the UN Charter, continue, it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations," RIA added.
On Saturday, US, French and British forces targeted three sites in Syria, which, according to US President Donald Trump, are associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president.
The coordinated attacks came as a response to the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma last week, killing scores of civilians.
The US has warned it "is locked and loaded" to strike Syria if any more chemical attacks occur.

Speaking to an emergency session of the UN Security Council on Saturday, Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, said: "If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded."
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria's ambassador to United Nations, said the attacks were an "attack against international law," and called on the three countries to stop supporting "terrorists" in Syria.
Meanwhile, Putin has described the attacks as an "act of aggression" and warned they could worsen the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The 29th Arab Summit -- Al-Quds Summit -- has strongly condemned attempts to link terrorism to Islam, a religion that sets great store by peace.
Leaders and heads of Arab countries, who met in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, issued the call in a unanimous declaration on Sunday.
“We affirm the illegality of the American decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We categorically refuse to recognize Al-Quds as the capital of Israel, where East Al-Quds will remain the capital of Palestine.
“We warn against taking any action that would change the current legal and political status of Al-Quds,” they said in the declaration issued at the end of the summit.
The summit welcomed the decision of the UN General Assembly on Al-Quds, commending the states that supported it. They promised continued efforts to re-launch effective Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on ending the political stalemate resulting from the intransigence of the Israeli position.
The conflict could be ended through a two-state solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with the July 1967 borders and East Al-Quds as its capital, the declaration says.
“This is the way to achieve security and stability in the region, as per the announcement of the Palestinian president at the Security Council on February 20, 2018,” it added
The participants also denounced targeting 119 missile attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militias on Saudi Arabia through, Makkah and a number of other cities.
They affirmed full support for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in all measures taken to protect its security and capabilities.
The global fraternity was asked to toughen sanctions on Iran and its militias, prevent it from supporting terrorist groups, supplying Houthi militias with missiles manufactured in Iran and launched from Yemen toward Saudi cities and to abide by the UN Resolution No. 2216.
Pledging all necessary efforts to eliminate terrorist gangs, their supporters, its organizers and sponsors at home and abroad such as Iran and its arms in the Middle East and Africa, the summit hoped the free world would back their quest for peace, security and development.
“We strongly condemn attempts to link terrorism and Islam. We call upon the international community … to issue a unified definition of terrorism. Terrorism has no religion, no homeland and no identity.”
All countries were urged to shoulder their responsibilities to combat this dangerous scourge. “We deplore the distortion by some extremist groups of the image of the true religion of Islam by linking it to terrorism, and warn that such attempts serve terrorism itself.”

 

Former FBI Director James Comey has accused US President Donald Trump of being "morally unfit" for the presidency and treating women like "pieces of meat" in his first television interview since being fired last year.
Speaking to ABC's 20/20 program, Comey said: "The challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him".
The television interview on Sunday comes ahead of the release of Comey's book, A Higher Loyalty, on Tuesday.
According to the transcript of the four-hour interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Comey said he does not think Trump is "medically unfit to be president", but rather "morally unfit to be president".
"A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds," Comey said.
The former FBI director was referring to last August's "Unite the Right" rally that turned deadly when a white supremacist allegedly rammed his car into a group of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Trump blamed "both sides" for the violence.
Comey has been embroiled in controversy since reopening an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while US secretary of state during Barack Obama's first term as president compromised national security.
Clinton said the release of a letter stating the FBI had uncovered new emails just days before the elections helped hand the election to Trump.
Once Trump took office, the president and Comey feuded over the FBI's investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Comey said there is "certainly some evidence" when asked whether the US president committed obstruction of justice when Trump allegedly asked top aides to leave the Oval Office to privately ask Comey to drop his investigation into then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn was fired from his post last year.
Comey added that the prosecutor would need to evaluate if "other things reflected on [Trump's] intent".
Comey said he does not hope for Trump's impeachment because "impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty bound to do directly".
He added: "People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values."
Comey repeatedly pointed to how he feels like the president does not value the truth and how he has lied to the American people.
"There's something more important than that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country," Comey said.
"The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president."
Prior to Sunday's interview, Trump took to Twitter, calling the former FBI director "not smart" and saying he "will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history".
The White House has not commented on the interview, but the Republican National Committee did respond on Twitter saying Comey "isn't credible".

 

NASA is set to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on Monday, starting a new chapter in the search for planets that could potentially support extraterrestrial life.
During its mission, TESS will analyze thousands of relatively nearby stars for planets orbiting the stars.
According to NASA, scientists expect to find about 50 Earth-sized planets and about 20,000 exoplanets in total, of which the vast majority will probably be larger than Neptune, our solar system's fourth biggest planet.
Exoplanets are planets that orbit a star other than the sun.
TESS will be sent into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the launch of which is slated to take place at 10:30 GMT at the Cape Canaveral station in Florida.
It will take two weeks for the satellite to get in its planned orbit and will eventually be closer to the Moon than to Earth.
After two months of testing and calibrating its systems, TESS will start a two-year mission examining 200,000 stars looking for exoplanets.
Based on the light emitted by the stars, the satellite will be able to catalog thousands of planets, NASA said.
Combining that information with data gathered by telescopes on Earth scientists will be able to determine the make-up and mass of those planets.
The satellite, which cost about $200m, will build on work done by the Kepler telescope, which was able to catalogue about 2,300 exoplanets to date.
However, TESS will examine a much larger portion of the sky, about 85 percent in total. This is about 350 times more than Kepler, which has a similar mission to TESS but is only focused on a small part of the sky.
TESS will also look at stars that are much closer, about 30 to 300 light years away, than those examined by Kepler, which studied stars 300 to 3,000 light years away.
The planets found by TESS will be studied in depth by both scientists on Earth, as well as future space missions.
The launch of the James Webb telescope, the most powerful space telescope to date, is currently slated for 2020 and will continue research done by TESS.
One of the most important aspects of these exploratory space missions is for scientists to identify more planets that could potentially support life.
Based on Kepler's data, our galaxy alone could potentially have 10 billion planets that could be habitable.
In total, scientists estimate there are about 100 billion galaxies in the Universe.

 

The United States has warned it "is locked and loaded" to strike Syria if there are any more chemical attacks, hours after more than 100 bombs targeted facilities in Damascus and Homs said to be associated with the use of chemical weapons.
Speaking to an emergency session of the UN Security Council on Saturday, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said: "If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded.
"When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line."
The US, UK and France targeted three sites across Syria on Saturday, including: The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre in Damascus' Barzeh district, the Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Facility, 20km west of Homs and the Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Bunker Facility, just more than 7km from the storage facility.
Haley said the US and its allies "acted, not as revenge" but to "deter the future use of chemical weapons by holding the Syrian regime responsible for its atrocities against humanity".
However, her Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, called on the Security Council to condemn the attacks.
"Today is not the day to shirk your responsibilities," he said. "The whole world is looking at you. Take a principled stand."
But Russia failed to garner the necessary votes, and was instead handed a stinging diplomatic defeat.
Only three countries - Russia, China and Bolivia - backed the resolution which called the US and its allies' strikes an "aggression" against Syria.
Eight countries voting against, and four countries abstained - Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Peru and Equatorial Guinea.
"Today is a very sad day for the world, the UN, its charter, which was blatantly, blatantly violated," Nebenzia said.
Bashar Jaafari, Syria's ambassador to United Nations, said the strikes were an "attack against international law," and called on the three countries to stop supporting "terrorists" in Syria.
He said members of the international chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, arrived on Saturday in Damascus and were to meet Syrian authorities.
"My government will, of course, provide every support to this delegation for it to carry out its mission successfully," Jaafari said.
The attacks on Saturday came in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in the former rebel stronghold of Douma last weekend.
Around 70 civilians suffocated to death as they tried to seek shelter from government air raids and barrel bombs.
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter and thanked France and the UK for "their wisdom and the power of their fine military" in an early morning Tweet.
"A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!"
A Pentagon briefing later said the attacks had "set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years".
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, described the strikes as an "act of aggression" and warned they could worsen the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Only 10 days ago, Trump told national security aides that he wanted US forces out of Syria in about six months.
The US president was adamant that it was time to bring them home after largely defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
"Very soon, very soon, we're coming out," Trump said to a crowd in Richfield, Ohio, on March 30.
"We're going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be," he said.
But with Saturday's attacks, Trump has abruptly deepened US involvement in Syria.
Aides told Reuters news agency that Trump's attitude changed when he was shown images of Syrians allegedly killed by the chemical weapons last Saturday.
The attacks come about a year after he first ordered air raids against Syrian targets to retaliate for an earlier use of the banned substances.

 

Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono said on Sunday that Tokyo and Beijing needed to work more closely together to denuclearize North Korea, in comments made during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
Wang’s arrival in Tokyo comes ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. The US-North Korean talks are aimed at ending a standoff over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Wang’s trip also follows an official visit by Kono to Beijing earlier this year, and marks the first visit by a Chinese foreign minister to Japan in a bilateral context in nine years.
“We would like to co-operate further towards the common goal between Japan and China, of establishing a complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea,” Kono said as the two began talks in Tokyo.
The meetings also come after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier pledged to reset the sometimes fraught relationship between Asia’s two largest economies.
Wang said the visit was a response to Japan’s positive attitude toward China.
“Since last year, Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude,” Wang said at the meeting, adding that he hoped that the visit would help the two countries move towards better ties.
Wang on Monday holds high-level talks with Kono and other Japanese Cabinet ministers. On Tuesday, Japanese Self Defense Force officers will meet their counterparts from China’s People’s Liberation Army at a reception hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation aimed at building trust between the past military rivals.
Wang spent eight years in Japan as a diplomat with three of those years as China’s ambassador.

 

A surprise handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has stirred up Kenyan politics as the long-time rivals set their sights on the 2022 elections.
Less than a year since Kenyatta was re-elected to a second and final term in a vote that Odinga called a farce, the two shook hands on March 9 after weeks of secret talks. A warm embrace at a golf tournament followed later.
They said their rapprochement would mean an end to the violence, bitterness and political instability that followed last year’s elections.
But observers say the handshake signaled that Kenyatta and Odinga, who is also in the sunset of his political career, want to join forces so they can influence what happens next.
They say that it may show that Kenyatta intends to ditch a deal to appoint William Ruto, who is his deputy president but comes from a different ethnic group, as his successor. Kenyatta has said he still backs Ruto.
For Odinga, it shows he feels he has more bargaining power for himself and his Luo ethnic group as Kenyatta’s partner.
“Everybody has had to go back to their drawing board and decide how they are going to run in 2022,” said Ngunjiri Wambugu, a lawmaker from Kenyatta’s Jubilee party, a political alliance between his Kikuyu ethnic group and Ruto’s Kalenjin.
“This pact between Kenyatta and Odinga has redefined the race.”
Political victory in a country of 45 million with 44 ethnic groups is usually forged through ethnic alliances. Since independence in 1963, Kikuyu and Kalenjin have dominated government.
The two groups clashed after disputed elections in 2007, in violence involving many tribes that left 1,200 Kenyans dead. They were united ahead of the 2013 vote by Kenyatta in his Jubilee alliance.
The Luo and other groups have often felt excluded by central government and made their own NASA alliance, led by Odinga.
Tensions between the Kikuyu and Luo groups contributed to a dispute between Kenyatta’s father and the founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, and his vice president and Odinga’s father Oginga Odinga, in 1969. That set the stage for years of bitter rivalry between the two powerful families.
The last staged handshake between Kenyatta and Odinga was shortly after the 2013 election when Odinga accepted defeat.
For now, the rapprochement has calmed fractured politics that has also disrupted the economy and put off investors. Odinga called off a months-long boycott by opposition lawmakers of all government business, including vetting Kenyatta’s ministers.
When they shook hands last month, the men said they plan to set up a joint office to be led by loyalists from both sides to “preach reconciliation” across Kenya.
But few observers believe the truce will resolve the deep-seated ethnic tensions as Kenyatta and Odinga have promised.
“Unless there is substance put into the handshake, it’ll be a lost opportunity,” said Maina Kiai, human rights campaigner.
“Anger in the country has not been dealt with.”
Cases linked to the violence after the 2007 election against Kenyatta and Ruto at the International Criminal Court in The Hague collapsed.
The police killings of opposition supporters that marred both the August election and the re-run in October that took place after the Supreme Court annulled the initial poll are also still fresh in Kenyan minds.
The Jubilee alliance was also forged on the premise that the populous Kikuyus and Kalenjins would stick together to lock out Odinga or other opposition challengers.
The Kalenjins may be upset if Kenyatta does not let Ruto take the helm of the alliance with a view to the presidency in 2022.
Ruto declined requests for an interview but his allies dismissed suggestions that his presidential prospects have taken a knock.
“Those are people who don’t know William Ruto. He is a very strategic and experienced politician,” said national assembly majority leader Aden Duale.
The 73-year-old Odinga, a former prime minister, has run unsuccessfully for president four times and is not expected to run again. A spokesman for Odinga declined to comment.
But bringing him closer to the center of power could cause upset on both sides.
“Jubilee should be cautious so that Raila does not mess it ahead of 2022,” Kithure Kindiki, Jubilee’s deputy speaker in the senate, was quoted by local media after the handshake.
Odinga’s fellow opposition coalition parties are also unhappy, with several accusing him of betrayal.
If Odinga can bring Kenyatta the support of his formidable political base, he may not be as reliant on Ruto and can talk to other political leaders.
Kenyatta could also turn to Gideon Moi. The seasoned politician and senator from the sizeable Kalenjin community is the son of former President Daniel arap Moi, who made Kenyatta his protege.
“Kenyatta has pulled the classic divide-and-rule move of the cunning president, creating as many potential alliances as possible in order to avoid empowering any one successor,” said Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham.
“This will help him to manage Gideon Moi, William Ruto and others with their own presidential ambitions.”

 

The United States urged regional leaders on Saturday to take stronger steps to isolate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as it joined a declaration condemning the worsening humanitarian crisis and political repression in the South American nation.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told the Summit of the Americas in the Peruvian capital that immediate action was needed as Venezuela gears up for presidential elections on May 20 that have been condemned by many regional leaders as a farce to legitimize Maduro’s rule.
For the first time, the United States backed a statement by heads of state from the Lima Group of nations - established last year to seek a peaceful end to Venezuela’s political turmoil - which called on Maduro to release political prisoners and hold free elections.
Despite an economic collapse that has driven an estimated 3 million people to flee his once-prosperous OPEC nation, Maduro is expected to win next month’s poll.
Venezuela’s two most popular opposition leaders are banned from competing and electoral authorities are stacked with government supporters.
“The United States of America will not stand idly by as Venezuela crumbles,” Pence said in a speech. “Every free nation gathered here must take stronger action to isolate the Maduro regime. We must all stand with our brothers and sisters suffering in Venezuela.”
The statement by the Lima Group voiced alarm at an exodus of migrants from Venezuela and urged governments to intensify actions aimed at restoring democracy.
Washington has already targeted senior members of Maduro’s administration with sanctions due to accusations of corruption and rights abuses.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the prospect in February that this could be broadened to restrict Venezuela’s exports of crude oil and its imports of U.S. refined products.
Neighboring countries’ frustration with Maduro’s socialist government has been stoked by the arrival of thousands of hungry migrants across the border into Colombia and Brazil every day.
The joint statement called on international organizations to offer support to neighboring countries to cope with the arrivals and for Maduro to allow access for humanitarian aid to his nation of 30 million people - something he has refused to do, denying there is a crisis.
“To have in Maduro a leader that will not allow humanitarian aid into his own country as people are starving and people are dying is unconscionable,” Pence said.
Addressing red-shirted supporters at an “anti-imperialist” rally in Caracas, Maduro branded the meeting in Lima as “a complete failure” and said Latin American presidents were wasting their time criticizing him.
Maduro was banned from the Lima gathering due to regional censure of his democratic record.
Hosting the summit, Peru has sought the broadest possible support for the document from governments outside the 14-nation Lima Group - which includes regional heavyweights such as Brazil, Mexico and Canada but not the United States.
However, efforts to build momentum behind the statement were hit by the last-minute cancellation of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attendance.
In the end, the statement was signed by 16 nations, fewer than half of the 35 countries that are members of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Previous efforts to build consensus behind strongly worded condemnations of Venezuela at the OAS have run into resistance not just from Caracas’ left-leaning allies such as Cuba and Bolivia, but Caribbean nations that have benefited from Venezuela’s subsidized oil programmers.
The official theme of the Lima summit was the fight against corruption and leaders agreed a statement calling for improvements in transparency of public tenders, more independent and accountable judiciaries and stronger international cooperation on money laundering.
However, the meeting was overshadowed by U.S. air strikes in Syria in retaliation for what Washington said was a chemical weapons attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced strong support for the air strikes by the United States, France and Britain, several Latin American nations including Brazil, Argentina and Peru expressed caution about the escalating military action.
“There’s deep concern in Brazil with the escalation of military conflict in Syria,” Brazilian President Michel Temer told the summit. “It’s time to find permanent solutions based on international law to a war that has been going for far too long and ended too many lives.”