The United States Southern Command is gathering with military leaders from several Latin American countries in Lima, Peru for a closed-door conference in which Venezuela, terrorism, drug drafficking, and climate change are reportedly the major topics.
The 7th South American Defense Conference will include U.S. Southern Command Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, along with high-ranking military officials from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States.
According to U.S. Admiral Tidd, the meeting is meant to demonstrate the U.S.'s “interest in strengthening relations with countries of the region, in order to unite as partners and true friends that welcome all ideas and perspectives.”
With Venezuela on the agenda, the meeting comes on the tails of President Donald Trump saying that the United States is evaluating a “military option” to be used against Venezuela. The threats were widely condemned throughout Latin America as an unacceptable aggression against a nation's sovereignty.
Also on the agenda is the sharing of “experiences in relation to issues of terrorism, cyber-defense and other transnational crimes, such as drug trafficking,” according to Peruvian Defense Minister Jorge Nieto.
The U.S. military has said the event is for “promoting the exchange of ideas,” as well as helping “improve” regional “security and prosperity.”
Some observers expect the Korean Peninsula to be on the list of items discussed, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence last week having issued a call to Mexico, Chile, and Peru to break off all ties with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea, amidst rising tensions and threats between the U.S. and DPRK.
The South American Defense Conference is one of three major Latin American security conferences organized by the U.S. Southern Command.