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The White House confirmed last week that President Trump would attend the Summit of the Americas next month in Peru. In doing so, he follows the lead of every United States president since Bill Clinton, who hosted the first such gathering, in Miami in 1994. Mr. Trump’s predecessors have treated the summit meeting — the only meeting of Western Hemisphere heads of state — as an obvious opportunity to advance United States interests in the neighborhood.
Unlike Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, however, Mr. Trump comes to the summit meeting with considerable baggage, making the risks far greater. His participation may even end up being counterproductive to the meeting’s primary aims of furthering human rights, democracy and inter-American diplomacy.
The White House likely knows this, which may be why Mr. Trump’s attendance was only recently confirmed. If the president’s trip is to be worthwhile — or at least avoid doing damage — the administration should take a hard look at why expectations are so low across the region.