US, Central American officials meet as Trump signals shift

US, Central American officials meet as Trump signals shift

US, Central American officials meet as Trump signals shift

Their two-day Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America will look at ways of rebuilding prosperous, stable economies in the region and fighting transnational organized crime.

American and development bank officials are laying out their strategy for dealing with problems in Central America.

"The United States of America stands with the nations and people of the Northern Triangle, we stand with you in your commitment to rule out crime and corruption", to stop drug trafficking, "as you build a more secure and prosperous future" for the benefit of the West Hemisphere, added Pence.

The conference comes at a time when the Trump administration has proposed a significant cut - more than 30 percent - in US assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, raising questions about how Washington can accomplish an ambitious agenda in Central America.

US and Central American officials found common ground Thursday on the benefits of economic development and the need to reduce drug trafficking as the administration of President Donald Trump proposes to dial back financial assistance to the region. He also says the use of his country as a transit point for drugs bound for the USA and Europe are responsible for high rates of crime in his country.

But critics warned that both countries are turning a "blind eye" to the root cause of Central America's humanitarian crisis. He didn't mention that the amount is 30 percent less than was approved previous year by Congress under President Barack Obama, which has dismayed some experts on the region.

The President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks during a conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Miami.

The Trump administration has proposed cutting that budget by 30 percent and believes it can help support the countries even as it spend less money.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that the USA wants to help Central America solve the security and economic problems that have caused turmoil in the region in recent years.

The visit from Pence comes one day before President Donald Trump will arrive in Miami, where he is expected to make a major announcement regarding the USA and Cuba.

"Those of us who have the privilege of living in this great region, we understand that issues such as migration, security, economic development, stability and prosperity are shared challenges", he said. He said that must include ways to reduce the number of people working in the informal sector and make it easier for people to start new business in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

"This conference, unfortunately, signals a recommitment to some of the worst policies the USA has implemented in Central America in the past several decades".

According to the organizers, US Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the keynote, and the respective Secretary of State, National Security and Treasury, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly and Steven Mnuchin will also attend the meeting.

Along with co-host Mexico and the Northern Triangle - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - envoys from Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain are taking part.

The conference will shift to a focus on security Friday.

Pence noted that the Trump administration has proposed $460 million in assistance, which will be used to strengthen law enforcement and develop their economies.

That has caused repeated diplomatic strains with Mexico, which Trump accused during his election campaign of sending drug traffickers and criminals across the USA border.

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