U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday following a meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, that he is confident that a free trade agreement with Colombia can ultimately be reached.
Speaking to reporters immediately after the meeting, Obama said while difficulties
remain, he believes that a compromise can be worked out that will benefit both nations.
The U.S. head of state expressed concern about killings of labor leaders and the human rights record in Colombia.
“It is important that Colombia pursue a path of rule of law,” he said.
However he commented that the number of labor union related deaths is on a “downward trajectory”
while prosecutions for “blatant human rights
offenses” have risen.
Obama praised Uribe’s leadership, including reducing drug cartels’ power and improving
“He has performed with diligence and courage,” Obama said.
But when asked about Uribe’s possible re-election, the American President said “two terms are enough and after eight years, in the U.S. people want change,” adding that “what is important” is that democracy is carried out “in a legitimate manner, that it is not imposed from above, that the electoral process isn’t manipulated or altered or that opposition voices are silenced.”
Despite his criticism, Obama said he had instructed U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk to liaise with Uribe’s team on how to best proceed.