Jill Biden visits Latin America ahead of hemispheric summit – WSB-TV Channel 2

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WASHINGTON – (AP) – Jill Biden will travel to Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama this week to help lay the groundwork as the United States finalizes arrangements for a hemisphere-wide summit to be held in Los Angeles in June, the White House announced Tuesday.

The first lady leaves on Wednesday for her second solo trip abroad this month.

She spent Mother’s Day weekend in Eastern Europe performing a high-profile show of American support for Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children who fled to neighboring Romania and Slovakia to escape Russia’s war against their country. The trip included an unannounced trip to western Ukraine by Biden for a surprise meeting with first lady Olena Zelenska.

Biden’s trip through Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama is meant to serve as a warm-up for a gathering of Latin American and Caribbean leaders to be held June 6-10 in Los Angeles. The week-long Summit of the Americas is a key part of President Joe Biden’s outreach to a region that is increasingly being courted by U.S. adversaries, such as China and Russia.

Throughout the trip, she will highlight U.S. support for programs that help children, women, and youth across countries on her itinerary, according to her schedule.

In Quito, Ecuador on Thursday, the First Lady will meet with President Guillermo Lasso and First Lady María de Lourdes Alcívar de Lasso at Carondelet Palace. The first ladies will visit a child development center to learn about the government’s efforts to improve child nutrition.

Biden will also visit an elementary school that hosts a US-backed accelerated learning program that helps school dropouts from Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia return to school.

In Panama City, Panama, on Friday, Biden will travel to the presidential palace to sit with first lady Yazmin Colón de Cortizo. They will also visit a school to learn more about Cortizo’s “Seeing and Hearing to Learn” program, which provides students with vision and hearing tests, as well as glasses and hearing aids.

On Saturday, Biden and Cortizo will visit The Good Samaritan Home to visit residents living with HIV/AIDS. People at the shelter are benefiting from HIV/AIDS relief programs funded by a US program, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the White House said.

Later Saturday, in San Jose, Costa Rica, Biden will speak to women who have participated in US State Department programs designed to help them become entrepreneurs. His Saturday schedule also includes a meeting with President Rodrigo Chaves and First Lady Signe Zeikate.

On Sunday, Biden will highlight the joint work of the United States and Costa Rica to fight cancer during his visit to the National Children’s Hospital of Costa Rica.

On Monday, Biden will visit a community center supported by the Sembremos Seguridad, or “Planting the Seeds of Security” program, which is run by the Costa Rican government with help from the US State Department. Local governments, non-governmental organizations and law enforcement are working to provide safe spaces and healthy outlets for Costa Rican youth.

She returns to Washington on Monday evening.

President Biden was also leaving Washington on Thursday for his first official visit to Asia as president. It has scheduled stops in Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo through May 24.

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