Obama lauds Peru’s ‘economic success story’

* Garcia urges U.S. Congress to support immigration reform

* Two leaders discuss free trade pact, security

* Little mention of Peru’s cocaine problem

WASHINGTON, June 1 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President Barack Obama
held talks with his Peruvian counterpart Alan Garcia on Tuesday
and praised his stewardship of the Andean country’s economy
during the global economic crisis.

Garcia, a strong advocate of foreign investment and
free-market policies, is considered one of Washington’s
strongest allies in South America.

Calling Peru an “extraordinary economic success story,”
Obama said the country’s economy, which the IMF projects could
grow up to 7 percent this year, had remained resilient in the
midst of a tough global recession.

Obama said his talks with Garcia at the White House had
covered security issues, improving trade through their
bilateral free trade agreement, the promotion of democracy and
human rights in the region and nuclear non-proliferation.

In comments to reporters after their meeting, both leaders
made only glancing mention of two hot-button topics — Peru’s
rising cocaine production and U.S. immigration policy.

A U.N. body said in February that Peru could overtake
Colombia as the top cocaine producer in five to 10 years if the
government did not take a more aggressive stance toward coca

Garcia followed in the footsteps of Mexican President
Felipe Calderon, who used his state visit to the United States
last month to raise concerns about U.S. immigration policy, in
particular a harsh new law in the state of Arizona.

Garcia called on the U.S. Congress to support a
comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration policies.

A Peruvian girl made headlines last month when she asked
the U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama, whether Washington was
planning to deport undocumented immigrants. She told the first
lady that her own mother did not have “papers.”

“I’m full of pride that a Peruvian girl is at this moment
the representative of the problems that Latin American
immigrants are facing,” Garcia told reporters soon after the

The immigration debate in the United States has intensified
since Arizona passed a law that requires police to check the
residency status of anyone they suspect is in the United States

Garcia said last week said he was concerned about the
Arizona law and was planning to let Obama know that Peru would
like to see the law “corrected.”

Peru’s Foreign Ministry says there are roughly 1.5 million
Peruvians living in the United States, but they do not have
data on how many of those are undocumented immigrants.

Obama wants a new immigration law approved this year or
next that would create a legal path to citizenship for illegal
immigrants. He has called on opposition Republicans to join his
fellow Democrats to pass the law.

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(Reporting by Ross Colvin in Washington and Eduardo Garcia in
Lima; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Obama lauds Peru’s ‘economic success story’