Santos gets face-time with US president at Summit of the Americas in Panama
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met his US counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama, where he lauded the progress of the two-year old peace talks taking place in Havana, Cuba, local and foreign media reported.
The White House said in a report that there has been progress to end the armed conflict since last year’s summit, with Obama praising the efforts towards peace in Colombia and reiterating his support for the negotiations.
Leaders of 19 countries from the Americas converged on Panama City on April 10-11 to talk about a wide range of issues.
But it was Cuba that stole the headlines this year, as it was the first time ever its communist government has been allowed to attend, and – even more historical – the summit was the scene of a meeting between Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro.
It is the first time in decades that Cuban and American leaders have appeared in the same room, and demonstrates a thaw as the two countries work towards normalising relations.
President Obama is currently seeking approval from his Congress to take Cuba off its ‘state-sponsored terrorism’ list.
As for the peace process, in March the US appointed veteran diplomat Bernard Aronson as Special Envoy to the peace process in Havana. This signifies “a shared hope for stability and lasting peace in Colombia,” Obama was quoted as saying shortly after his meeting with President Santos.
Santos also used the summit to propose the creation of an Inter-American education system, arguing that education was the surest way to lift people out of poverty in Central and South America.
By Maddie Elder