By Daina Beth Solomon and Matt Spetalnick
MEXICO CITY – The United States is still hammering out a final guest list ahead of next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, senior U.S. officials said on Wednesday, after weeks of tension around several countries expected to be excluded.
Summit preparations have been clouded by the threat of an embarrassing boycott by some regional leaders, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, if Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are not invited.
“We still have some final considerations, but we will, I think, inform people publicly soon,” White House Latin America adviser Juan Gonzalez said in a call with reporters.
Lopez Obrador, who received an invitation last week, has yet to say whether he will attend.
Gonzalez said President Joe Biden’s administration has been in talks with Mexico over Lopez Obrador’s insistence that Cuba attend the summit.
U.S. officials are considering inviting a lower-ranking Cuban representative in an effort to mollify Lopez Obrador and other leaders, according to two sources in Washington.
“(Biden) very personally wants the president of Mexico there,” Gonzalez added.
Even if Lopez Obrador does not attend, Washington plans to maintain cooperation with Mexico and present a regional migration plan at the summit, he said.
The gathering aims to bring together nations migrants leave from and pass through as well as destination countries to show that “the migration challenge is not one that is at the U.S. border,” Gonzalez said.
Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, said the “shared approach” could include ensuring documentation, public services, ethical job recruitment and pathways for legal migration in countries that host migrants.
The summit will take place in the United States for the first time since 1994. Washington has said it only wanted leaders of administrations that respect democracy to attend, and that the leftist governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua would not be invited.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; additional reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Bill Berkrot)