Obama meets with Colombian president at White House

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 3, 2013 

President Barack Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos spoke Tuesday at the White House, stressing the need to move beyond security to a broader relationship that includes education, energy and economic issues.

"Not only do we continue to excel in security cooperation that has I think helped to facilitate the tremendous progress that’s taken place in Colombia over the last decade, but precisely because of the success on the security front, we’ve also been able to widen our discussion to a whole host of issues," Obama said after the meeting.

"The relations of our two countries find themselves at their best moment ever," Santos said "And as a result, the agenda that we have discussed this morning is much broader than it’s ever been. We have gone well beyond the usual items that we used to discuss, like security, like drug trafficking, and we are now expanding it to topics like education, energy, and mutual cooperation -- what we can do regionally."

The two spoke about the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement and how it has brought about a 20 percent increase in trade between the two countries since its signing.

Obama told Santos that he supports new peace talks with rebel forces in Colombia.

"Obviously, there are going to be some very challenging questions moving forward," he said. "I'm pleased to see the president's strong commitment on that front."

"We have been shedding blood for over 50 years, and the support of the United States and the entire world is decisive in reaching that peace we all want," Santos responded.

Santos made his visit to Washington just  after announcing he would seek re-election in Colombia.

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