WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama and Peru's President Ollanta Humala have discussed efforts to complete negotiations for a new U.S.-led trans-Pacific trade agreement, counter-narcotics cooperation, and other issues during talks in Washington. It was the president's second meeting in a week with a South American leader.
Peru and the United States are among 11 nations in negotiations to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP], a U.S.-led free-trade organization that Obama has made a key foreign policy and economic priority.
Obama has used his own trips, including a recent stop in Mexico, to add momentum to the negotiations that also involve Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia and New Zealand.
In remarks after their talks, Obama said the kind of global marketplace the TPP will create will benefit both countries.
"Growth is also dependent on our continued expansion in a global marketplace and that is why I am very glad Peru and the United States are working so closely together in finalizing the Trans Pacific Partnership which offers the possibility of opening up markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region with high standards, and protections for labor and the environment," said Obama.
The talks also covered what Obama called a "wide range of security issues," including fighting trans-national drug networks.
Obama congratulated Humala on sustaining strong and inclusive economic growth in his country, saying Peru has been able to reduce poverty and inequality.
Poverty in Peru has dropped significantly in recent years, but remains at just under 30 percent according to World Bank figures, higher in extreme rural communities.
Humala spoke about the "strong bonds" between the United States and Peru, noting joint efforts against the "scourge of drugs."
In translated remarks, he also mentioned political and social progress in his country.
"We have agreed on the importance of building democracy, on respecting human rights, on improving economic openness, on working on trade because this allows us to grow our economies and to develop further," said Humala.
The White House talks marked the latest stage of an Obama administration outreach to Latin America that has intensified in recent weeks.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera met with Obama last week for discussions that also focused on trans-Pacific trade. Vice President Biden visited Colombia, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago in May.
Obama wished Peru's football team luck in its game Tuesday with Colombia in 2014 World Cup qualifying competition. Humala extended an invitation for Obama to visit Peru.