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Bush, Torrijos Meet at White House


U.S. President George Bush and his Panamanian counterpart, Martin Torrijos, have met at the White House and discussed bilateral trade and other issues.

Addressing reporters after the talks, Mr. Bush said the issue of a free trade deal with Panama should be a priority for the U.S.

The president said he will do everything possible to get Congress to approve the deal, along with pending agreements with Colombia and South Korea. Mr. Torrijos thanked the U.S. president for his efforts.

Panama and the United States signed the deal last June. Some U.S. officials have said the agreement may be in jeopardy because the head of Panama's National Assembly is wanted by the United States for the 1992 killing of a U.S. army officer. Pedro Miguel Gonzalez denies any role in the death of Sergeant Zak Hernandez Laporte.

Gonzalez also denies involvement in the attempted murder of another American soldier in Panama. He was acquitted in a trial about a decade ago. Separately, Gonzalez says in a letter to President Torrijos that he will not seek re-election to the Assembly post. Gonzalez's term ends in early September.

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