(CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA) John McCain came to this port city on the northern coast of Colombia to meet with President Alvaro Uribe, who hosted the senator and his wife, Cindy, as well as Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, at his seaside mansion, Casa de Huespedes. The campaign described it as Colombia's Camp David.
McCain and Uribe met for an hour and 40 minutes, almost an hour longer than they had scheduled. When they both emerged to speak to the media, they praised each other for the connections between the two countries, although McCain said there was still work to be done on human rights abuses here. "I have been supporter of human rights my entire life and career," McCain said. "We have discussed this issue with President Uribe and we will continue to urge progress in that direction, and I believe that progress is be made, and I believe that more progress needs to be made."
McCain also praised Plan Colombia, a U.S.-backed initiative that has spent billions over the past decade to try and curb drug trafficking. "The strategy is working," McCain said. "The cost of an ounce of cocaine in the street of the United States of America is significantly increased. The government of Mexico is acting with increased efforts to prevent those drugs from continuing their trip from Colombia to the United States of America."
One thing McCain wouldn't discuss, though, was the current presidential campaign. He has repeatedly pointed out Barack Obama's opposition to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, saying it amounts to a protectionist foreign policy that could cause damage to the U.S. economy. But he refuses to make those kinds of comments when not on American soil. "The only discussion that I had concerning the presidential campaign was that I believe that any partisanship ends at the water's edge," McCain said. "I've only discussed the issues of trade, of drugs, of better relations, the situation with the FARC – a long list of issues, none of them having anything to do with the presidential campaign."