Obama visits El Salvador

Video of Obama's arrival.

Shortly after noon today, March 22, US president Barack Obama arrived in El Salvador for a state visit.   Public offices and many schools were closed, as the country welcomed Obama.   Following an arrival ceremony at the airport where he was greeted by the foreign minister and the mayor of San Salvador, Obama was flown to the Salvadoran presidential residence for meetings with president Mauricio Funes.   Obama is accompanied on this trip by his wife Michelle and his daughters.

Following their meetings, the two leaders gave a joint press conference.  The full text of the two presidents' press conference is available here.  There was a discussion of various development support which the US will be providing El Salvador, as well as security and combating drug-trafficking.

One of the important topics for El Salvador was US migration policy.  In statements in El Salvador, Obama stated, “I thought that President Funes gave a very eloquent response to one of my questions during our bilateral meeting. He said: ‘I don’t want a young man in El Salvador or a young woman in El Salvador to feel that the only two paths to moving up the income ladder is either to travel north or to join a criminal enterprise,’ ”  Obama indicated that he would move immigration reform forward in the US Congress.  

Obama is cutting short his visit to El Salvador in light of the new military actions in Libya. He will no longer make a planned visit to Mayan ruins outside of the capital scheduled for Wednesday.

Obama did make a highly symbolic visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral and the tomb of slain archbishop Oscar Romero.   Obama was escorted by president Funes as well as San Salvador archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas.

 El Diario de Hoy has a special section on its web site devoted to the presidential visit.  There are photo albums of the visit at the Facebook site of the US embassy in El Salvador.  While at the Huffington Pst, you can see a photo essay devoted to Michelle Obama's time in El Salvador.  Al Jazeera - English aired this video in connection with Obama's visit.