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Trump praises Panama... and its canal

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5 days ago David Jackson

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WASHINGTON — President Trump saluted Panama counterpart Juan Carlos Varela during a White House meeting Monday that touched on illegal immigration, international criminal gangs, drug trafficking — and the Panama Canal.

"The Panama Canal is doing quite well," the U.S. president said during a photo opportunity. "I think we did a good job building it."

Responded Varela: "Very good job."

Beyond infrastructure, Trump praised the U.S. relationship with Panama, saying "things are going well," and "the relationship has been very strong. We are developing new things to do and only getting stronger."

Varela thanked Trump and said "the idea for this visit is to work closely together as we face the same challenges we have in the region of Central America and Latin America."

In announcing the meeting earlier this month, the White House said that Trump and Varela would discuss "our shared priorities in the fight against transnational organized crime, illegal migration, and illicit substances."

It added that "the leaders will also discuss our economic partnership and how to counter democratic backsliding in Venezuela."

Trump did not respond to questions about whether or not he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice in connection with the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the Russia investigation. He also ignored questions about whether he has tapes of conversations with Comey.

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