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US VP Pence thanks Canada for backing Syria strikes, optimistic on NAFTA

US VP Pence thanks Canada for backing Syria strikes, optimistic on NAFTA

Vice President Mike Pence says there's a "real possibility" the USA could reach a deal with Canada and Mexico on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement "within the next several weeks".

There "will be a price to pay" if Syria ever uses chemical weapons again, as the USA is ready to take additional action, Pence told reporters travelling with him to Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas.

Pence, who was also scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, struck a notably confident tone, saying USA officials "think we're close" and were "encouraged at the progress of our negotiations".

The Mexican leader says they will discuss NAFTA and other parts of their relationship involving "cooperation and mutual respect".

The decades-old trilateral trade agreement has been a frequent target of President Trump, who has criticized large trade deficits the USA has with Mexico and Canada, as well as the relocation of American jobs and companies.

Vice President Mike Pence has told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the U.S.is "encouraged" by the progress on negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement and hopeful it can lead to "more fair and reciprocal trade".




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

And while Trump grapples with the ongoing Russian Federation investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, Pence sought to draw a bright line against Vladimir Putin's alliance with Syria following the suspected chemical attack. He learned only Tuesday that he would be attending in Trump's place so the president could manage the USA response to Syria.

Responding to a question, Pence said that the U.S. message to Russian Federation is: "You're on the wrong side of history".

Pence repeatedly praised the "strong leadership" of President Donald Trump and American allies in responding to the chemical attacks in Syria.

In condemning the US-led attack, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insisted on Saturday that the missile strikes would only strengthen his nation's resolve to keep its fight against Western-backed terror groups and "crush terrorism in every inch of the nation".

"We believe that it has significantly eroded and crippled the ability of the regime to produce chemicals", Pence further claimed despite the fact that the previous United States administration was heavily involved in the process of Syria's dismantling of its entire chemical weapons arsenal back in 2014 in the presence of global inspectors.