During their first meeting Thursday in the White House, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his US counterpart Donald Trump extended a hand of friendship and expressed their desire to continue strengthening an all ready strong bilateral relationship. His visit focused on securing support for continued USA aid to Colombia and championing his peace deal with the FARC rebels.
The press conference was also one of Trump's last opportunities to speak on the record to the American media before his first trip overseas as president later this week. "I think it shows division, and it shows that we're not together as a country".
Santos, in response, said that Colombia was working to reduce coca production and combat drug trafficking networks.
Santos said that Colombia has already destroyed 15,000 hectares of coca in 2017, as much as in all of 2016, and at the same time registered 80,000 families into a crop-substitution program that will soon have them growing "legal crops" instead of coca.
Trump also said he would announce his pick to succeed Comey soon, and told reporters in the Oval Office with Santos just before their joint press conference that 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee and former Connecticut Sen.
But Trump did not explicitly endorse the plan that has divided the Colombia community and left gaping questions about future USA financial support for the deal.
Colombia was responsible for making 710 metric tons of cocaine previous year, compared to only 235 tons in 2013.More news: Irish Prime Minister steps down as leader of ruling Fine Gael party
MS-13, an global criminal gang that started in Los Angeles, has been mentioned several times by the Trump administration as it justifies the need for a border wall, but their numbers in the US are unclear. "The United States and Colombia are, today, more than ever, a support for each other, our alliance has been strengthened", said Santos.
One of President Donald Trump's highest-stakes foreign-policy encounters this week is one few people in Washington have paid any attention to.
"For a long time our nations have had a strategic alliance", Santos said.
Yesterday, Trump did take a stance on specific eradication tactics outside of offering a blanket statement of support.
When asked whether he supported Trump's planned border wall, Santos, who faces very low approval ratings at home, did not answer directly, but focused on the partnership between the two countries.
In an earlier meeting Thursday with President Santos, U.S. senators discussed military aid for Colombia in light of the unstable situation in Venezuela.