In Lima, Vice President Pence says NAFTA deal possible in several weeks

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence right shakes hands with Venezuelan opposition leader Julio Borges during a meeting at the residence of the US ambassador in Lima Peru Friday

US Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the Summit of the Americas in Peru on Saturday, the vice president's Communications Director Jarrod Agen said in a statement.

"We agreed to keep up work towards reaching a deal and to summon our special negotiating teams to accelerate their efforts", Pena Nieto told reporters after meeting Pence.

U.S. -Mexican trade has grown rapidly since NAFTA, with the U.S.as Mexico's leading partner in merchandise trade, and Mexico as the third-largest trade partner of the U.S. If Trump were to scrap the deal, experts say that it could cost Mexico more than 950,000 low-skilled jobs and lower its GDP growth by 0.9 percent.

"The goal of this meeting is not only to address the issue of NAFTA, but also to talk about the bilateral relationship, which should continue to be based on cooperation and mutual respect", Pena Nieto said.

Pence echoed Trump in his remarks on Saturday, saying that the US was prepared to carry out "sustained" action against Syria's chemical weapons program, unless the government of President Bashar Assad ceased its use of chemical munitions.

US Vice President Mike Pence has threatened that Washington is set to respond to possible retaliatory moves against its missile attacks on Syria, by Damascus or its allies, specifically Russian Federation and Iran.

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Trump and Pena Nieto have yet to meet in person since Trump became president a year ago.

While the crisis in Syria was front and centre, Trudeau and Pence also expressed optimism about the state of NAFTA negotiations, the results of which will have dramatic ramifications for the USA and Canada.

Trudeau said Saturday that there have been "positive momentum" in the NAFTA talks.

While President Donald Trump has vowed to scrap NAFTA and pull out of trade agreements as part of his America First policy, most of the region has been moving in the opposite direction. Last weekend's suspected chemical attack killed 40 civilians, including women and children.

On Friday, auto industry executives said United States trade negotiators significantly softened their demands to increase regional automotive content under a reworked NAFTA trade pact in an effort to seal a deal in the next few weeks.

Later, speaking in a cavernous hall of world leaders at the Summit of the Americas, Pence expressed gratitude to Canada, Colombia and other nations that had voiced support for the strike and urged "every nation in this hemisphere of freedom" to support the military action.

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