Los Angeles chosen to host Summit of the Americas, a key gathering of region’s leaders

Los Angeles has been chosen by the Biden administration to host this year’s Summit of the Americas, a key gathering that U.S. officials hope will help mend diplomatic fences in the Western Hemisphere, officials familiar with the decision said.

The White House is expected to announce later Tuesday that the meeting — to be held on U.S. soil for the second time since the forum was created nearly three decades ago — will take place in early June in Los Angeles.

The administration is expected to cite the city’s “deep and robust” ties throughout the hemisphere as one of the reasons it was selected, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of the formal announcement.

President Biden will attend the meeting. Former President Trump skipped the last summit, which was held in Peru in 2018. The summit is scheduled to convene every three years, though it was delayed this time by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the Biden administration, holding the meeting in Los Angeles provides ways to show the connection between U.S. domestic and foreign policy. The city has a large population of Latinos with family members spread throughout Central and South America. Los Angeles has also been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, a disease that disproportionately affects Latinos.

The Los Angeles venue “is especially relevant for those of us who are hyphenated Americans,” the White House official said, noting “more than 224 languages spoken” in the greater Los Angeles area representing 140 countries.

The first such summit was held in Miami in 1994, with President Clinton as the host. It was billed as an early post-Cold War venue for regional partnerships in trade, aid and security.

The Biden administration has struggled at times to formulate and execute its policies in Latin America. A focus on the so-called Northern Triangle of Central American countries that fuel immigration into the U.S. has met numerous obstacles; Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has proved mercurial and unpredictable, and the Venezuela policy aimed at ousting dictator Nicolas Maduro is in disarray.

Another tricky issue is who is invited to the summit. Attendance has generally been limited to democratic countries. Peru revoked Venezuela’s invitation in 2018, and Cuba has never attended. The administration official said criteria were still being discussed on who will be invited, such as whether countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador, where increasingly authoritarian leaders are exerting control, will make the cut.

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