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    White House Will Continue to Focus on Latin American

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    Following President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, the White House will continue to stay focused on Latin American with upcoming visits from two Latin American heads of state as well as a trip to the region by Vice President Joe Biden.

    Peru’s President Ollanta Humala and Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera will travel to Washington in June to meet with President Obama.

    Next week, Biden will make stops in Brazil and Colombia, plus the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

    The visits reflect the administration’s desire to show the U.S. relationship with its neighbors to the south is about much more than drugs, crime and illegal immigration. The need for closer economic ties topped Obama’s agenda during his three-day trip last week to Mexico and Costa Rica.

    High on the agenda for both meetings will be negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific-wide trading bloc meant to open markets to wider trade. Peru and Chile are members, as are Mexico and Canada. The pact is key to Obama’s vaunted strategy to forge closer ties to Asia as China and other regional nations gain economic clout.

    Of intense interest to leaders and citizens in Latin American countries is the immigration overhaul advancing tenuously through Congress. Obama is largely supportive of the bipartisan bill, which would strengthen borders and provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally — most of them from Latin American countries.

    Ricardo Zúñiga, who heads Latin America policy for the White House’s National Security Council, said the U.S. wants to make sure other countries in the Western Hemisphere aren’t left out of that process.

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
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