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At Summit of Americas, Biden Pledges U.S. Help on Latin American Problems

LOS ANGELES — President Biden opened the three-day Summit of the Americas on Wednesday by promising leaders from Latin America that the United States is committed to helping the region fight crime, corruption and its economic struggle.

“These challenges affect us all,” Mr Biden told leaders at the opening ceremony of the summit, a gathering of countries from the Western Hemisphere aimed at addressing the region’s shared problems. “All of our countries have a responsibility to increase and relieve the pressure people feel today.”

The United States will host the ninth of these summits, which began in 1994 in Miami. In brief remarks, Mr. Biden gave a version of his domestic economic pitch, urging governments in the hemisphere to invest in workers and the middle class.

“What’s true in the United States is true in every country: trickle-down economics doesn’t work,” he said, sparking some applause from the audience at the Microsoft Theater near the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“If we invest in empowering workers and the middle class,” he said, “the poor have a ladder up, and those at the top are doing just fine. This way we can increase opportunities and reduce persistent inequality.”

Biden has hoped to use the summit to reaffirm US leadership in the region and make diplomatic progress on several fronts, but his efforts are already facing serious challenges.

His call to “get to work building the future this region deserves” was undermined days ago when some of its most prominent leaders refused to attend, citing the president’s refusal to harass Cuba’s leaders. , Nicaragua and Venezuela.

But Mr Biden went on Wednesday night as if the stupidity had made no difference, saying the Los Angeles meeting would announce what he called “a pioneering, integrated new approach to managing migration and sharing responsibility across the hemisphere.”

White House officials have declined to provide details, but people familiar with the effort said governments had been working on pledges for each to take in a certain number of refugees from the region.

Critics have questioned the value of such a statement without the leaders of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – who generate nearly 66 percent of migration every year to the border of the United States – present.

Government officials said those countries supported the effort despite their absence. In his comments, Biden said the statement “represents a mutual commitment to invest in regional solutions that enhance stability and increase opportunities for safe and orderly migration.”

On Thursday, the leaders will begin formal meetings.

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