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Remarks by President Obama and President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia Before Bilateral Meeting

Location: New York, NY

Waldorf Astoria Hotel

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to welcome President Santos here. This is the first time that we've met face to face, although we had a wonderful conversation on the phone.

He has already, I think, in the short time that he's been in office shown remarkable leadership. Yesterday was a big day for the people of Colombia and those who are seeking peace in the region; because of outstanding work by Colombian security forces, they were able to embark on a mission that resulted in the death of the leader of FARC.

The people of Colombia have been plagued by this terrorist insurgency for a very long time, and as a consequence of the success of Colombian security forces, I think we now have the chance to see continued stability in Colombia and in the region. And that will create the prospects for peace and development under President Santos's leadership. So I congratulate him.

The friendship between our two countries is extraordinarily important to us. We are working not just in dealing with things like drug interdiction, but we're also interested in figuring out how we can continually improve our economic cooperation, our political cooperation, and our people-to-people exchanges so that we continually deepen these bilateral ties.

I think that President Santos also likes to boast about the fact that his Kansas Jayhawks have won a number of championships in basketball. And I was a little disappointed with them last year because I bet on them winning it all, but they lost. (Laughter.) But he's already apologized to me for that.

So I want to welcome the President. Again, congratulations on a great start. We are confident that we will -- we'll be able to strengthen the cooperation between our two nations.


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