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C.America asks U.S. for cheaper gas, more drug-busting efforts


10:38, May 05, 2013

Image provided by Honduras' Presidency shows U.S. President Barack Obama (5th L), Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla (5th R) and other state and government chiefs waving during arrival to an event at National Theatre in San Jose, capital of Costa Rica, May 3, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama and Central American state and government chiefs arrived to Costa Rica on Friday before they attend summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA, by its acronym in Spanish). (Xinhua/Honduras' Presidency)

SAN JOSE, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Central American leaders on Friday asked U.S. President Barack Obama to provide cheaper gas for the region and more support in preventing drug-trafficking.

The requests were voiced at a summit between the Central American Integration System, known as SICA for its initials in Spanish, and the United States.

Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes said there should be greater U.S. involvement in the prevention of drug-trafficking in Central America because "the supply will exist while there is consumption."

"That was what most presidents said in this meeting, that is not only about sharing through the suppression of crime, but through prevention, investment in social policy and economic growth policies," said Funes.

Obama's reply, he said, is "positive."

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina stressed the need for an open dialogue about the legalization of drugs. According to him, Obama said the federal policy will not change although some U.S. states have legalized marijuana.

Meanwhile, the Guatemalan leader called on the U.S. government to provide natural gas with "competitive prices" for Central American nations, as the United States sits on a vast reserve of natural gas and oil prices have been on the rise in recent years.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said higher energy prices are pushing up prices of basic goods, which let Central American economies lose competitiveness.

The Guatemalan president added that the United States is willing to cooperate with its Central American neighbors on security issues, even though the U.S. economy is not at its best time

"President Obama said the U.S. economy has some problems, which we all know, but they are doing their best to support the safety strategy," he said.

Obama and the Central American leaders will meet Central American businessmen Saturday, when the issue of new sources of clean energy will be discussed.

Obama arrived here after a 24-hour visit to Mexico.

The Central American Integration System groups Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, with the Dominican Republic being a partner member.

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