President Trump will make the first visit of his presidency to Latin America next month, the White House said on Saturday, traveling to Peru for a summit meeting of Western Hemisphere nations where he will convene with a group of leaders who have criticized his statements and policies on immigration.
The president will also visit Colombia and meet with President Juan Manuel Santos, the White House said in a statement.
“This travel demonstrates the president’s resolve to deepen our historical ties with our partners in the region and to strengthen our joint commitment to improve security and prosperity for the people of the Americas,” the statement said.
The statement pointed to the significance of establishing relationships with countries that “share our values and believe that the promise of a safe and prosperous future rests in strong democracies, fair and reciprocal trade, and secure borders.”
As he has moved the United States toward a more protectionist stance on trade, Mr. Trump has abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes Mexico, Peru and Chile. The United States is also engaged in difficult negotiations with Mexico and Canada over changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In Colombia, Mr. Trump will be repaying a visit that Mr. Santos, a Harvard-trained economist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for negotiating a peace treaty with FARC guerrillas, made to the White House in May.
During a joint news conference with Mr. Trump at the time, Mr. Santos sidestepped a question about whether he agreed with the White House’s plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico to halt the flow of drugs into the United States.
Earlier, Mr. Trump had said that coca cultivation and cocaine production had risen to record levels in Colombia, and challenged Mr. Santos to remedy the problem. The United States has a long history of cooperation with Colombia on that issue and others.
The efforts to build the border wall, along with the president’s move in recent days to establish tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, have inflamed some of the leaders with whom he will meet in Peru. After vocal protests from Mexico and Canada, Mr. Trump granted those countries a temporary exemption from the tariffs. But Brazil, a major steel exporter to the United States, has not been given any such exemption.
American presidents have attended the Western Hemisphere meeting, known as the Summit of the Americas, in previous years — Barack Obama made history there in 2015 by meeting with President Raúl Castro of Cuba — but few have stoked as much indignation as Mr. Trump.
At least twice during Mr. Trump’s presidency, efforts to set up a meeting between him and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico have been scotched over their bitter disagreement about the plan for the border wall.