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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 17, 2008
President Bush Meets with President Torrijos of Panama
1:54 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you for coming. It's -- bienvenidos.
PRESIDENT TORRIJOS: Yes.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. President Torrijos has been a good personal friend and he has been a good friend to freedom and prosperity and democracy. I've been very impressed by your leadership.
The Panamanian economy is strong. They are implementing now a very strategic decision, which is the -- building a parallel canal in Panama. I remember when you first explained it to me there, when I went to visit you, I was most impressed. And then you're here now briefing me that the plans are not only in place, but the operations are beginning soon. And I congratulate you for that.
We talked about bilateral issues. One key issue, of course, is the free trade agreement between the United States and Panama; Congress needs to get it done. This is important for our -- both our nations, it's important for our economies, and it's important for our friendship. And I appreciate you coming to talk to members of Congress. I think it is most useful.
And so it's a joy to be with you again, and I'm proud to have you here. And I pledge to you that I will continue to work hard on this important agreement -- and I will. Welcome.
PRESIDENT TORRIJOS: Thank you, sir. Thank you. It's always a pleasure talking to you and looking at our bilateral relations. They have grown stronger. There's a lot of issues of cooperation in the agenda, cooperation that will make a difference to common people in Panama -- health programs, the regional center that's been established in Panama; educational programs -- we're talking; and of course our commitment to free trade, and, as you said, the commitment that we hope we'll be ready to help in any way to -- in the process.
And I just want to thank you for being a friend of the country, being aware of our problem, and reaching out to help the Panamanian people. So thank you, sir.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you.
END 1:56 P.M. EDT