PANAMA CITY – US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Panama on Thursday on a visit of several hours during which he will meet with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and discuss an agenda focusing on security and trade issues.
Pence arrived on an official US aircraft about 12:50 pm at the Tocumen international airport, which serves the Panamanian capital.
He disembarked about 20 minutes later accompanied by his wife, Karen Pence, and was welcomed by the country’s deputy foreign minister, Luis Miguel Hincapie, and US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, among other top officials.
According to the official agenda of the meeting, Pence on Thursday will deliver a speech at the interoceanic Panama Canal, built and administered for almost 100 years by the US until Washington passed control of the waterway to Panama in December 1999.
The US is the main user of the Panama Canal.
After that, the VP will travel to the Panamanian government headquarters for a private meeting with Varela.
The pair will mainly discuss security, although they will also talk about trade issues and the regional and global agenda already agreed to during Varela’s visit to Washington in June, when he met with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, the Panamanian President’s Office said.
After their closed-door meeting, Pence and Varela will issue a joint statement, according to Panamanian government sources.
Pence will then wrap up his first Latin American tour, which also has taken him to Colombia, Argentina and Chile and which was aimed at emphasizing the Trump administration’s commitment to the region.
The issue of the ongoing Venezuelan crisis loomed at the vice president’s meetings with top officials in Colombia, Argentina and Chile, where on Wednesday he said that Washington will use all its diplomatic and economic power to restore democracy in that country.
A few hours before Pence’s arrival in Panama, several dozen members of various social movements protested in the Panamanian capital against his visit and the “imperialistic” policy of the US and burned cloth effigy figures of both him and Varela.