From: Geoff Earle [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 4, 2016 6:24 PM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO ; Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO
Subject: Pool report No. 8, Feb. 5, 2016
POTUS hailed Plan Colombia – which is now being renamed as Paz Colombia (Peace Colombia) – in an East Room reception celebrating the culminating peace talks there.
“Beinvenidos a la Casa Blanca,” Obama told a crowd that packed the room, with President Santos standing by his side in front of two flags from each country.
Check transcript for other exact quotes.
He declared the US to be “big fans” of Colombian culture. “We love Shakira,” he said. Then he mentioned singer Carlos Vives, actor John Leguizamo, and former White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who was in the crowd and took a quick bow.
POTUS hailed Republicans and Democrats who backed the plan, and made a joke about Kansas basketball (Santos studied at KU).
He discussed “how to seize this incredible moment of promise.”
He said there was “no denying Colombia’s remarkable transformation.”
“The tide has turned,” he said, calling Plan Colombia a tribute to the Colombian people.
“A country that was on the brink of collapse is now on the brink of peace,” he said.
He thanked Cuba for hosting peace talks, and said peace would just be a “first step.”
He got applause when he said the plan would be called “Peace Colombia – Paz Colombia.” Then he said the US would be providing $450 million for security, reintegrating combatants and “rule of law.” He also mentioned human rights and justice for victims.
Obama mentioned his infamous trip to Colombia as president, and recalled seeing a land transfer to descendants of former slaves there.
Santos began in English with a joke. He said Colombians love America. “And they love you very much. You are the most popular person in the Colombian polls.”
“That’s not true here in America,” Obama quipped.
Continuing in English, Santos said many thought the peace overture was “mission impossible.” He thanked Obama for supporting “ a risky and bold step of trying to achieve peace.”
“Peace will be the cherry on the cake of Plan Colombia,” Santos said. The crowd gave a standing ovation at the end.