With just a week to go before the Biden administration hosts the ninth America Summit in Los Angeles, the agenda is set, but the guest list remains mysterious.
President Biden will host the hemispheric meeting, scheduled to begin Monday, which will focus on what senior administration officials say are the biggest challenges facing the region: curbing record migration, boosting economic growth, tackling climate change and strengthening the recovery from of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Top of the agenda is managing historic migration flows and addressing the nearly 7 million people who have been displaced from their homes in the region, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the summit preparations.
Biden will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with foreign leaders across the region on the final day of the summit as part of a “bold new plan” to curb migration, the official said.
But the White House remains reticent about who will actually attend the high-stakes regional conference. That includes whether Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who leads the second most populous country in Latin America, will be among the leaders standing at Biden’s side.
Disagreements over the US decision to expel the authoritarian leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have cast doubt on the guest list, with the loudest criticism coming from López Obrador, who has not yet decided whether he will attend.
The leaders of Bolivia, Chile and Honduras have expressed doubts about coming to Los Angeles. Most Caribbean countries have since withdrawn a boycott threat.
Each Summit guest nation is free to make the guest list at its own discretion, and most if not all countries are routinely included. This is the first time the Summit, which takes place every three or four years, has been held in the United States since its inaugural session in Miami in 1994.
Mexico’s President said on Friday he would wait and see if the US would heed his request to invite all Western Hemisphere countries, but signaled he would send a delegate in his place, most likely his pro-US Secretary of State Marcelo Ebrard.
White House officials said talks with the Mexican president had been “respectful” and that his absence would not undermine the summit’s ambitious agenda. Officials said attendees would announce a series of policy decisions emphasizing law enforcement cooperation and fighting the criminal smuggling industry. Leaders will also promote agreements that increase support for refugee resettlement and stabilization efforts, as well as promote labor mobility, which benefits the US and Canada, which are experiencing labor shortages.
According to senior administration officials, Biden is expected to launch an initiative to boost health infrastructure and train health workers in the region to help countries prepare for future pandemics.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been tasked with addressing the root causes of migration in the region, will announce a partnership to address the climate and energy challenges facing Caribbean nations, officials said. The effort is expected to build on the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative to help these nations overcome their dependency on fossil fuels, an initiative launched by Biden in 2013 when he was vice president.
Tracy Wilkinson, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-05-31/migration-covid-19-and-climate-change-to-lead-summit-of-the-americas-but-guest-list-remains-a-mystery Agenda for next week’s Summit of Americas in Los Angeles has firmed up. But not its guest list.