Thousands of people have marched in two Colombian cities to protest a planned free trade agreement with the United States.

The marchers massed in Bogota and Cartagena Thursday, saying the accord would worsen unemployment in the Andean nation. The demonstration took place as trade negotiators from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the United States met for a new round of talks in Cartagena.

The negotiations for the free trade deal began in May of last year and are supposed to conclude next month.

The Andean countries want to extend existing trade accords that allow them to export items such as fresh cut flowers without tariffs. The agreements, set to expire in 2006, were put in place to help countries on the front lines in the fight against the illegal drug trade.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.