President Barack Obama has congratulated his Colombia counterpart Juan Manuel Santos for his successful peace negotiations with the FARC rebels, saying the talks had resulted in “a lasting peace” in the Andean country.
The Colombian president met Obama in the White House on Tuesday during his tour of the United States. “We are expanding our partnership far beyond security into new areas of mutual interest like commerce, energy access, regional infrastructure and economic integration,” wrote Katherine Vargas, director of Hispanic media in her White House blog.
According to her article, U.S. exports to Colombia are up nearly 20%, supporting thousands of American jobs and helping to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports.
Total Colombian exports to the United States were $23.0 billion in 2011, up 48% from the previous year, while U.S. exports to Colombia totaled US $14.3 billion in 2011. From January through November 2012, exports to Colombia exceeded 2011 levels, reaching $15 billion.
“Colombia now enjoys a new level of security, a dynamic economy, and stronger democratic institutions,” said the White House.
Addressing a an audience of academics, students at the University of Miami on Monday, President Santos said he was optimistic about the peace talks with the Marxist FARC rebels taking place in Cuba.
He recalled the days when the United States aided his country with arms and ammunition in support of its efforts to curb the guerrilla insurgency. Colombia, he said, would no longer seek military aid from the U.S. but would rather ask for support in strengthening its education and technology sectors.
The FARC insurgency in Colombia began in 1964 and claimed more than 200,000 lives. Thanks to the peace talks, the fighting has now largely subsided.