Biden to host Colombian President Petro: White House

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US President Joe Biden will host a bilateral meeting with Colombian President Gustavo Petro, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Friday.

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“I am grateful to President Biden for his invitation,” Petro said on Twitter. “It is a key moment to strengthen the relationship and mutual cooperation between both countries, not just in the fight against drug trafficking but in the protection of the Amazon, on climate change and on rural development.”

The meeting will take place in Washington on April 20.

Petro has promised to end Colombia’s six-decade conflict, which has killed at least 450,000 people, through peace deals or surrender agreements with leftist rebels, crime groups founded by former right-wing paramilitaries and gangs.

Petro, who took office last year, has derided the US-led war on drugs as a failure and called for a new international approach.

Colombia’s attorney general, who is critical of Petro’s policies, has said the country risks losing US support because of rising coca output and the bill to allow criminal gangs to surrender in exchange for lesser sentences.

Colombia’s potential cocaine output rose 14 percent to 1,400 metric tons in 2021 and the area sown with coca shot up 43 percent to 204,000 hectares (500,000 acres), the UN said in an annual report last year.

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