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Bush Meets with President of El Salvador

President Bush has had what will likely be his last official meeting with the president of El Salvador. The two leaders stressed their countries' close historical ties.

President Bush says he and President Elias Antonio Saca discussed free trade and fighting drug trafficking.

Mr. Bush described President Saca as a close ally who has worked hard and invested resources for the benefit of the Salvadoran people.

"I appreciate very much that your country is a vibrant democracy," Mr. Bush said. "You have been steadfast in your support for the right of your people to express themselves in a free society."

President Bush commended Mr. Saca for his efforts to stem the flow of drugs out of El Salvador. Mr. Bush said there must be a comprehensive approach to fighting drug trafficking, addressing supply and demand.

Mr. Saca noted the importance of the United States to his country's economy, as more than half of El Salvador's exports go to the United States. Remittances are critical to the country, accounting for billions of dollars each year.

El Salvador is one of five Central American nations to enter into a free-trade accord with the United States during Mr. Bush's second term.

Mr. Saca noted U.S.-Salvadoran ties were strengthened during the country's 12-year civil war. The United States provided military aide to successive Salvadoran governments that battled leftist rebels until 1992.

Mr. Saca said ties with the United States have only grown stronger since then.

The Salvadoran leader said his country has moved from war to peace, and the United States has always contributed to the process.

President Bush particularly thanked Mr. Saca for his country's participation in the multinational coalition in Iraq, where El Salvador is Latin America's last remaining troop contributor.