Aug 15, 6:00 PM EDT

The Latest: Pence tells Latin America the US still cares

AP Photo
AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence's trip to Latin America (all times local):

6 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is praising Argentina as a model for the region, in contrast to the downward spiral of Venezuela.

Pence delivered a speech at the old stock exchange building in Buenos Aires during a six-day trip to Latin America.

He argued that a secure Latin America is crucial to the security of the United States, and that a more prosperous Latin America will lead to a more prosperous U.S.

He's also working to assure the region that the U.S. remains engaged despite President Donald Trump's "America First" policy.

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12:50 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is dodging questions about whether continued criticism of President Donald Trump's national security adviser is undermining U.S. security and whether Pence believes additional staffing changes are needed at the White House.

Conservative groups and a website formerly run by Trump adviser Steve Bannon have targeted Army Lt. H.R. McMaster as insufficiently supportive of Israel and insufficiently tough toward Iran.

The questions came up at a joint news conference with Pence and Argentine President Mauricio Macri (MAH'-cree).

Instead, Pence spoke about Trump's job creation and praised Trump's "strong leadership" on the international stage.

The vice president also defended Trump's "America first" strategy, saying the Republican has "brought the kind of broad-shouldered leadership to the world stage" that had been lacking under past presidents.

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12:25 p.m.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri (MAH'-cree) is advising against military action in Venezuela, saying "the way to go is not the use of force." Macri is speaking at joint press conference with Vice President Mike Pence in the Buenos Aires suburbs.

Pence's visit to Latin America comes amid unrest in Venezuela and concern by its neighbors about a possible American military role.

At a news conference in Colombia earlier this week, Pence declined to rule out possible military action by the U.S. against Venezuela. President Donald Trump on Friday has refused to rule out the option.

Pence's visit to Argentina is part of a six-day trip to Latin America.

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12:10 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is praising Argentina's "bold reform agenda" and describing the country as an "inspiration" for the hemisphere and the world.

Pence is speaking during a joint press conference with Argentine President Mauricio Macri (MAH'-cree). Macri has put into place a series of pro-business economic changes.

Pence tells Macri, "We applaud your political and economic reforms."

Pence is also thanking Macri for his opposition to the breakdown of democracy in Venezuela and calling on Latin America to do more to oppose the political changes in Venezuela.

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11:10 a.m.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri (MAH'-cree) is meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at Macri's presidential residence in the Buenos Aires suburbs.

Pence was greeted warmly by Macri on his arrival. Macri said it was good to see the vice president again.

The two posed for an official photo before sitting down for a joint meeting with their staffs.

Macri and Pence will also be delivering statements and answering questions from reporters as Pence seeks to highlight economic reforms in Argentina and ramp up pressure against Venezuela.

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10:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has participated in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate Jose de San Martin, an Argentine general who helped lead the revolution against Spanish rule in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

The ceremony was part of the vice president's visit to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, where he bowed his head at the altar and then participated in the commemoration. Pence also spent time at a memorial for Jews who died in the Holocaust and in a pair of deadly attacks on the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in the 1990s.

Pence is to meet with Argentina's president after the tour.

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10:10 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is to honor the liberator of Argentina, Peru and Chile from Spain at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.

Pence will commemorate Jose de San Martin in a wreath-laying ceremony at the cathedral, the first event in a busy day that includes meetings, a joint press conference with Argentina's president and a speech at the city's stock exchange.

Pence has been traveling through Latin America on a trip aimed at boosting economic ties. The cathedral was the church of Pope Francis during his tenure as the archbishop of Buenos Aires.

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8 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is in Argentina, where he's expected to praise President Mauricio Macri's economic reforms days after local midterm elections that were seen as a boost for Macri's pro-business agenda.

Pence is expected to meet with local officials, hold a joint press conference with Macri and deliver a speech as the Buenos Aires stock exchange focused on economic ties between the two countries. Pence is on a week-long visit to Latin America.

Investors have praised Macri's decision to cut government spending, reduce taxes on exports and end economic distortions that led to years of high consumer prices under his predecessor.

Macri and President Donald Trump enjoy a personal relationship dating back years from their days as businessmen. Both hope to leverage those ties to boost U.S.-Argentina relations.

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This story corrects the pronouncer on Mauricio Macri's last name to MAH'-cree, not mah-CREE'.

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