San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's Arias praises Obama as ‘president who listens'

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said Central America has high hopes after Sunday morning´s much anticipated sit-down meeting in Trinidad and Tobago between fellow heads of state from this region and U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Now there´s a different president in Washington, a president who listens, who wants to learn,” said Arias, according to a government press release issued shortly after the meeting of Obama and leaders from the Central American Integration System (SICA). The meeting came just at the end of the weekend-long Summit of the Americas.

“Without a doubt we have big expectations that relations between the United States and Latin America, and particularly with Central America, will be stronger, where … everything achieved will be done through respectful dialogue,” Arias said.

Joining Arias and Obama Sunday were leaders of the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador, who discussed issues such as immigration, the global economic crisis and drug- and weapons-trafficking.

Obama said the U.S. is committed to engaging the region, and listening some more.

“I´m looking forward to hearing more about how the United States can be an effective partner with all the countries represented,” Obama said, according to several news reports citing a White House statement.

The U.S. president also delighted Costa Ricans by giving the “small country” special mention.

“We recognize that other countries have good ideas, too, and we want to hear them,” Obama said, according to the newswire Associated Press. The fact that an idea comes “from a small country, like Costa Rica,” should not diminish its benefit, he added.

See the April 24 print or digital edition of The Tico Times and The Nica Times for more on this story.

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