Sunday, March 29, 2009

U.S. vice president arrives in Costa Rica

(AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) (Xinhua) - U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden arrived in Costa Rica Sunday to attend a summit with leaders from Central American countries.

Biden traveled to Costa Rica from Santiago, Chile, where he met with South American leaders including Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Biden was accompanied by his wife Jill and White House officials in charge of U.S. relations with Latin America.

The U.S. leader was welcomed at the Juan Santamaria international airport by Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno and Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States Tomas Duenas.

Biden's trip to Costa Rica is the first visit to Central America by a top U.S. official since President Barack Obama took office in January.

On Monday, Biden will meet with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, and later they will be joined by leaders from Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rican and Panama at the summit to discuss new U.S. aid to the region, measures for sustainable development and details of the "Merida Plan" to combat drug trafficking.

The possible agenda of the 5th Summit of the Americas, scheduled for April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, may also be discussed.

Presidents Alvaro Colom from Guatemala, Antonio Saca from El Salvador, Martin Torrijos from Panama and Salvadorian President-elect Mauricio Funes will attend the summit.

Nicaragua's vice foreign minister, Honduras' vice president and Belize's prime minister will also attend the meeting.

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