Colombia’s President-elect Petro meets with Biden delegation
Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro on Friday met with representatives of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration in Colombia’s capital Bogota, where they discussed topics including drug trafficking, the environment, and economic development.
Petro, a 62-year-old economist who will become Colombia’s first leftist leader next month, has been roundly critical of the U.S.-led war on drugs and was elected on promises to tackle deep inequality and climate change and to seek peace with remaining leftist rebels.
“This is a positive meeting because it shows the interest that exists in the government of the United States in Latin America and in Colombia,” Petro told journalists accompanied by U.S. principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer.
While Colombia is a top producer of cocaine, and faces constant pressure from Washington to eradicate drug crops and tackle drug trafficking, Petro has said his priority for the relationship with the United States will be fighting climate change and that his administration will frame drug policy around the environment.
However, during the campaign, Petro also softened rhetoric around re-negotiating free trade agreements, including a 2012 deal with the United States.
The Biden administration is willing to discuss the existing U.S.-Colombia trade agreement with Petro, a senior U.S. official said ahead of the delegation’s arrival in Bogota.
Petro has also raised concerns in Washington over his outreach to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is under U.S. sanctions. The two have discussed reestablishing normal relations at their countries’ border.
The conversation between Petro’s team and the U.S. delegation focused on a full range of topic, Finer told reporters, which included climate change, economic development and counter-narcotics, among others.
“We think it is a very promising conversation and very much look forward to working closely with the President elect and his team,” Finer said.