US President Joe Biden said this Monday at the beginning of the meeting with his Ecuadorian counterpart, Guillermo Lasso, that two of the issues he will give priority to will be trade and security, at a time when that violence linked to drug trafficking has skyrocketed in the Latin American country.

“This afternoon we will talk about how we can deepen our cooperation and our economic alliance with joint investments in various programs,” Biden said in statements to the press in the Oval Office of the White House.

Biden specified that he wants to talk about programs to strengthen the justice system in Ecuador and to improve the prison system, which has become one of the sources of violence in Ecuador.

Sitting next to him, Lasso explained that his objective is to reaffirm the alliance with the US and fight together for democracy, peace and justice in the region.

Lasso made no mention of trade or violence. However, in statements to the press on Sunday before leaving for the United States, the Ecuadorian president announced that he would ask Biden for more help to fight drug trafficking and that he would ask him to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Ecuador.

“Without a doubt, we have been allies for decades and what I hope is to reaffirm that spirit among allies to fight for that democracy, that peace and that justice in our region, as well as support the efforts of your Government to achieve these values in the world” Lasso said.

With a smile, he also said that he would talk to Biden about other issues when “the friends of the press” left, who tried to ask the two presidents about the content of the meeting but received no response.

One last topic that both leaders mentioned was the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Lasso recalled that Ecuador was the first Latin American country to condemn the war in Ukraine, while Biden thanked him for that support.

The two presidents were sitting next to each other, while the fireplace, lit, emitted heat in the Oval Office.

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