US President Barack Obama praised his Colombia counterpart Juan Manuel Santos for his “audacity” in pursuing peace talks with rebel the group FARC at a meeting between the two heads of state Tuesday in Washington DC.
At the meeting, Santos thanked Obama for the support he has expressed for the peace talks, saying that the support shown by the United States and the international community will be decisive in any success reached.
The meeting was held held in the Oval Office, and the two presidents discussed the peace talks and the free trade agreement between the two countries, among other topics.
Obama said he “completely” supported the peace process started by Santos, as well as “advances in human and labor rights,” including a law regulating the return to their lands of displaced farmers.
Obama congratulated Santos on those achievements but was clear “there are still goals left to achieve” and that his support for the peace process did not equate to support for Santos in the upcoming election.
“With Colombia we have a relationship that is not based on administration, but rather strong links between our two states,” said Obama.
Santos proposed to Obama that the two countries engage in an “alliance for progress and peace.”
The Colombian president also hoped to increase US investment in Colombia under the FTA signed between the two countries last year.
Colombia’s new ambassador to Washington, Luis Carlos Villegas, said that the peace process is important as a regional issue, adding that “the discussion developing around drug trafficking is of particular interest to us.”
Villegas, who took part in the peace talks before assuming office in the US capital, praised the progress made achieving strong relations between the two countries.
“Bilateral are at the best moment yet,” said Villegas. “The dialogues flow with transparency, respect, cooperation and dynamism.”
The meeting lasted about two and half hours and also discussed the tapering down of Plan Colombia, electing an increase in economic cooperation through trade as Colombia’s security situation improves.