- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2017

President Trump welcomed Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to the White House on Monday, with the two leaders pledging cooperation and making no mention publicly of a former Panamanian president facing extradition in Florida on corruption charges.

During their Oval Office meeting, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Varela for a “very strong” relationship with the U.S. and reminded him that the U.S. built the Panama Canal.

“The Panama Canal is doing quite well,” Mr. Trump said. “I think we did a good job building it, right?”

They are expected to discuss organized crime, drug trafficking and illegal migration during their meeting, as well as political unrest and violence in Venezuela.

During their brief discussion in front of reporters, the leaders made no mention of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, who was arrested in Coral Gables, Florida last week. The U.S. acted on an extradition warrant from Panama, where Mr. Martinelli is wanted on political espionage and corruption charges.

Panama’s government had requested Mr. Martinelli’s extradition in September on the charges stemming from his presidential term that ended in 2014. Mr. Martinelli presided over the opening of Mr. Trump’s hotel in Panama City, Panama, while serving as the country’s president in 2011, at which time the two men referred to each other as friends.

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