President Donald Trump's decision to skip a summit in South America might hinder his policy goals in the region.
The U.S. will still be represented at the Summit of the Americas, but Vice President Pence will be there, not Trump. The White House says canceling the trip allows Trump to focus on the latest crisis in Syria.
The summit would have been Trump's first trip to the region. And a personal visit could have helped him directly push several key items on his agenda.
China is sure to come up at the summit: The country has been veering towards a trade war with the U.S. in recent weeks. Chinese president Xi Jinping has made economic inroads in South America for years; the U.S. may try to reverse those gains and shore up economic solidarity against China.
The summit is also likely to address Venezuela: The country's dire economic problems have created a migration crisis in the region. The U.S. is working to coordinate Latin American countries on a pressure campaign against Venezuela's government.
Trump's absence obviously means he can't address these issues in person. It's also a missed opportunity for Trump to build bridges in the region; he's widely unpopular with Latin Americans thanks, in part, to his statements on immigration.
The U.S. response to Syria also disrupted the travel plans of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who canceled a weekend trip to Nevada and San Francisco.
Additional reporting via Newsy affiliate CNN.