QUITO Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said on Monday he will not attend this month's Summit of the Americas in Colombia, nor any other gathering that excludes Cuba or fails to address what he calls the region's most pressing issues.
So far, Correa is South America's only left-leaning leader to confirm he will not attend the summit, which begins on April 14 in Cartagena. Leaders from 34 countries, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are expected to be there.
"After some reflection I have decided that while I am the president of Ecuador, I will not attend any Summit of the Americas until it begins to make the decisions required," Correa said in a letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
"There has been talk of lack of consensus, but we all know that this is the veto of foreign powers, the intolerable situation in our 21st century America," said the letter, which was read aloud by a spokesman at Ecuador's presidential palace.
Santos has said the issue of Cuba's exclusion, and Cuba's position in general, will be discussed at the summit.
The United States has said Cuba should not be invited because it is not a member of the Organization of American States, which is backing the event.
Washington says Cuba does not meet an OAS charter requirement that its member countries be democracies.
Correa said his decision was not aimed at causing problems for Colombia's government, and that he hoped Ecuador's absence would spur the other governments to debate essential issues.
(Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)