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Meeting The Neighbors

After high level meetings with leaders of Europe and the world's biggest developed and emerging economies, U.S. President Barack Obama will stay closer to home when he travels to Trinidad on April 17 for the Summit of the Americas. It will be a chance for Mr. Obama to meet, listen and learn from his counterparts in Latin America, our country's closest neighbors.

Every 3 to 4 years, the democratically elected leaders of nations in the Western Hemisphere gather to discuss the region's most pressing issues. This year, they meet amid the most serious economic downturn in years and will be looking for ways to revive growth. In the past 5 years, the region has enjoyed a strong surge in growth, thanks to rising investment, commodity prices, trade and sound economic policies in many nations. The social benefits that these policies produced are now at risk, and at the summit hemispheric leaders will share ideas for addressing the crisis.

In addition to discussing economic issues, Mr. Obama will also talk about developing a green agenda in the hemisphere that focuses on conservation and clean, non-polluting energy that also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. and Brazil are already working with some nations in Central America and the Caribbean to help them develop fuels systems from renewable plant materials such as sugar cane, corn, soybeans and palm. He will also address rising crime in some nations in the region and improving safety for all citizens.

The United States comes with no pre-conceived plan to address these issues. Rather, Mr. Obama intends to listen, discuss and deal with the 33 other leaders who will attend as fellows in a renewed partnership that will benefit the people of the Americas.