Colombia's Uribe, Bush Discuss Trade and Narco-Terrorism

President Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe say they will continue working together to defeat the illegal drug trade. The leaders also discussed a pending free trade agreement.

President Bush congratulated the Colombian leader on his May re-election and said he admires Mr. Uribe for his strong beliefs in democracy and fighting illegal drugs.

"He's got a tough job in dealing with narco-terrorist groups in his country, but he's committed to dealing firmly with narco-terrorism," said Mr. Bush. "He's committed to helping reconcile past differences. He's committed to helping people get back into society."

President Uribe says they discussed how to speed up the eradication of drugs. Profits from harvesting coca leaves have helped fund rebels fighting Colombia's government.

"One challenge is that Colombia can overcome this long nightmare of terrorism," he said. "I understand the mandate my fellow country citizens have given me to work harder, and with better results, for my country to get peace, and the United States cooperation is necessary."

During their Oval Office talks, the leaders vowed to work out the remaining details of a free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States so Mr. Bush can submit it to Congress.

President Uribe briefed Mr. Bush on the recent Andean summit in Ecuador where he joined the leaders of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru in an effort to strengthen their trade alliance following Venezuela's withdrawal from the group in April.

President Bush says he wants to do a better job communicating with the people of South America and Central America about Washington's desire to promote justice, education, and health. The United States spends more than $1.5 million in the region each year, and Mr. Bush wants people there to understand that the money is meant to help them improve their lives.

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