Colombia's President Santos seeks Trump's support on FARC peace deal

Angie Massey
May 20, 2017

The presidents of the United States and Colombia had their first face-to-face meeting at the White House Thursday, making President Manuel Santos the third current Latin American president to meet with Donald Trump, following President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru, and President Mauricio Macri of Argentina.

The remarks were his first made on-camera since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tapped Robert Mueller to be the special counsel overseeing the Justice Department's Russian Federation probe.

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"I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things", Trump said.

He acknowledged Colombia's effort to achieve peace, but expressed his concern about the deficiencies of the Santos-FARC peace agreement.

-Colombian free trade agreement was working well, despite Colombia running a trade deficit with the United States.

Colombia past year signed a peace accord with the leftist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending the longest-running military conflict in the world.

Colombia has suffered more than any other country in the war on drugs, he added. And last year's initial defeat of the peace deal in a public referendum, before a revised version was approved by Colombia's Congress, underscored the polarization and political tension that will only grow ahead of next year's presidential and legislative elections.

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The peace treaty offers a new strategy. Last year, the crop covered almost half a million acres, enough to produce 700 metric tons of cocaine. "This is the first time that this could be done because of the peace", Santos said, noting that previously the conflict had prevented building roads to the areas where coca is grown.

Yesterday, Trump did take a stance on specific eradication tactics outside of offering a blanket statement of support.

Trump confirmed Thursday that former Connecticut Sen.

Trump did not mention Colombia's hard-fought peace process until a reporter asked about it.

Santos did receive positive support from Congress and the business community. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Roy Cardin, D-Md, co-chairs of a Colombia Task Force that promoted continued engagement.

Trump has long pledged a $1 trillion, 10-year plan to modernize US roads, bridges, airports, the electrical grid and water systems, but has so far been vague on how much of the spending would come from the federal government.

"I urge President Trump and all of the United States to look more to the south", he told Baier.

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