Trump welcomes Colombian President to White House

President Donald Trump meets with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

"In the late 1990s, Colombia was almost a failed state, devastated by conflicts with drug cartels and terrorist groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)".

Since "Plan Colombia" began in 2000, the United States has invested more than $10 billion in helping Colombia counter the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and stem the drug production and trafficking networks that feed corruption and violence in Colombia and in our own country.

The press conference will also be one of Trump's last opportunities to speak on the record to the American media before his first trip overseas as president. "We have a problem with drugs, and you have a very big problem with drugs", Trump said to Santos at the start of their meeting.

Analysts say the rejection of the fast-track procedure means the peace drive must be debated article by article, laying it open to amendments by lawmakers opposed to it.

"The commitment on President Trump's side and his administration was shown through the approval of the budget that, for Colombia, means an increase in the support to fund the post-conflict era", said Santos.

Later, when asked directly about the peace process, Trump said that he thought Santos had "done a fantastic job".

Colombia was responsible for making 710 metric tons of cocaine a year ago, compared to only 235 tons in 2013. More than a quarter million people were killed in the 50-year war. The U.S. has partnered in the past with Colombia to try to offer both carrots and sticks to the farmers who grow the raw materials for cocaine.

The White House pushed back on reports of the meeting, instead telling NBC News at the time that the former Colombian leaders were invited to Trump's club by one of its members and shared a mere handshake with Trump when he bumped into them there. "We are seizing enormous amounts of tons of cocaine", he said, adding that each year they confiscate more of the illegal substance. "Zero", Trump said during the press conference.

Two outspoken critics of the peace deal, former Colombian Presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana Arango, met with Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April. "So by working together, we can be much more effective, and that is a commitment we just made or ratified this afternoon", Santos said.

Santos mostly stayed out of the tumult.

"That was a long and very diplomatic answer to your question".


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