( dpa ) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with trade-union leaders in Colombia's second-largest city Friday, to discuss a free trade agreement that was signed by both countries in 2006 but is still awaiting ratification in the US Congress.She also met with demobilized right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels in the city, Medellin, during an official visit to the Andean country with a delegation including nine Democratic lawmakers who have been skeptical of the trade agreement.
A sector of the Democratic Party has demanded greater efforts in human rights and the protection of trade-union leaders before ratifying the agreement, which is expected to be discussed by US legislators in the first half of the year.
The text of the agreement, and a subsequent modification requested by the Democrats, have already been ratified by Colombia.
On Friday, Rice also visited a flower plantation that employs people pushed from their homes by the armed conflict that has affected Colombia for over 40 years. Later, she had dinner with Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo and was to met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Demobilized fighters asked her for more support for reinsertion programmes.
"We have an interest in letting members of the United States government see first-hand the progress we have made in Colombia on the security front and on the social front," said Frank Pearl, Colombian high commissioner for reinsertion.
Rice also met briefly with Colombian Attorney General Mario Iguaran about the country's advances in fighting the drug trade and protecting trade-unionists.