Trump cancels overseas trip to address Syria threat
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump today canceled plans to travel to South America later this week, choosing to stay in the United States to manage the U.S. response to Syria's apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as planned, remaining in the United States to "oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world."
The decision marks the first time an American president has not attended the summit. Vice President Mike Pence will travel in Trump's place.
Trump on Monday promised a decision on Syria within hours, declaring that Russia or any other nation found to share responsibility for Saturday's apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians will "pay a price."
The White House sharply rejected any suggestion that Trump's own words about pulling U.S. troops out of Syria had opened the door for the attack, which killed more than 40 people, including children.
Trump, asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin bore any responsibility, responded, "He may, yeah, he may. And if he does it's going to be very tough, very tough." He added, "Everybody's gonna pay a price. He will. Everybody will."
Amid the tough talk from the White House, the U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, was underway in the eastern Mediterranean after completing a port call in Cyprus.
The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria after an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.