Interview: Security remains theme of U.S.-Central American ties: Guatemalan president

2013-05-04 23:31:28 GMT2013-05-05 07:31:28(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SAN JOSE, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Guatemalan President Otto Perez said Saturday that security and combating drug trafficking remain the main focus in the relationship between Central America and the United States.

After taking part in a business forum with U.S. President Barack Obama in San Jose, the Guatemalan president told Xinhua in an interview that he considered Obama's visit to the region very fruitful.

"It can be seen as a revival, for the importance of President Obama gave to the neighboring countries such as Mexico and Central America. I think it is important and sends a valuable message," said Perez.

For Perez, although it was important to explore issues such as education and the pursuit of clean energy with President Obama, combating drug trafficking and regional security remain the central issues of the agenda.

The president said that Obama showed his willingness to negotiate new alternatives for combating organized crime in the region, and considered that there should be a shared but differentiated responsibility between drug producer and consumer countries.

Perez has been one of the promoters in the region to open the discussion on a possible legalization of drugs, insisting that it should be considered as an option to discourage drug trafficking.

"President Obama said this is going to take time, this will not change in one or two years, it may take a long time, but it effectively is an important step. We also believe that it can not be solved overnight, but it's important to continue discussing," he said.

The president of Guatemala also expressed optimism over the immigration reform that is being debated before the U.S. Congress.

"This is a very important issue for the region, because we have more than 5 million Central Americans living in the United States, " Perez said.

Perez said that he also talked with Obama on the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and that the government of Guatemala wants to know if it will have greater benefits than the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Obama and Perez arrived here Friday to attend the May 3-4 summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA), which drew together leaders of Central America and regional powers of the Americas.

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