U.S. President Barack Obama will host Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House in February, just weeks before Colombia's deadline for a final peace deal with leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The White House said Tuesday the planned February 4 visit would be an opportunity to "celebrate the successful partnership between the United States and Colombia" and to "support the efforts of President Santos to achieve a just and lasting peace accord with the FARC."
The United States spent more than $10 billion on a program called Plan Colombia, a military and diplomatic mission to help the Colombian government wipe out drug cartels and put down a 50-year Marxist rebellion.
After several years of talks mediated by Norway and Cuba, Colombia and the FARC rebels have given themselves a March 23 deadline for a final and comprehensive peace agreement.
Five decades of fighting have killed 220,000 people and forced millions from their homes.
Militia leader freed
Also Tuesday, a right-wing militia leader charged with hundreds of murders was freed from a Colombian prison.
Ramon Isaza served eight years behind bars. He originally was given a much longer prison term, but his time was reduced as part of a 2006 peace deal.
Isaza battled the leftist rebels, but also fought for control of Colombia's wealthy and notorious Medellin drug cartel.