US, Colombia expected to disclose trade accord

By Julie Pace
Associated Press / April 6, 2011

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WASHINGTON — The United States and Colombia are expected to disclose a deal on a key free trade pact today, three people close to the agreement said.

The deal ends a yearslong stalemate over the deal and came together following weeks of intense negotiations in Washington and Bogota, focused in part on Colombia strengthening protection of unions and labor leaders.

The deal could help President Obama win passage of another free trade accord with South Korea. The United States and South Korea signed that deal in December after years of wrangling, but Republicans have threatened to hold up its final approval if the administration did not also send lawmakers a finalized trade deal with Colombia, and another pending pact with Panama.

Obama urged lawmakers to proceed on South Korea, while also ordering more negotiations on Colombia and Panama, with a goal of finalizing both by the end of the year.