Biden: Security now second-tier with Colombia

VP Biden pleased security now second-tier issue with Colombia, looks to trade issues

Associated Press
Biden: Security now second-tier with Colombia
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Vice President Joe Biden holds bouquets of roses presented to him by a worker during a visit to the Serrezuela flowers plantation in Madrid, in the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia, Monday, May 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- In his first visit to Colombia in more than a decade, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that he's pleased security concerns can now take a back seat to trade and economic issues in talks with Washington's longtime ally.

Biden praised President Juan Manuel Santos for helping lead Latin America toward a "middle class, democratic and secure" future.

He reiterated U.S. support for Santos' efforts to make peace with FARC rebels, noting apparent progress in Havana with a land reform agreement in talks on ending a half-century-old conflict.

Biden did note Washington's insistence that human rights violators be tried in Colombia's civilian courts. U.S. officials have expressed concern over a new law that could shift cases to the military justice system.

Later, the vice president flew to Trinidad and Tobago for the second stop on his three-nation trip.

A calypso band and an honor guard greeted Biden and his wife, Jill, when they landed in the Trinidadian capital of Port-of-Spain. He left in a motorcade without speaking to reporters.

Biden scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to discuss regional security, energy and economic integration with Caribbean officials and leaders, including Haitian President Michel Martelly.

He will then go to Brazil to conclude the six-day trip.

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