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With Colombian labor reforms complete, Obama praises trade deal

President Obama is praising the free trade agreement between the United States and Colombia, saying it includes protections for workers and the environment that will serve as a "win" for both countries.

Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said at a joint news conference that the trade deal will go into effect May 15.

The U.S. and Colombia agreed to the trade deal last year. But implementation of the pact was contingent on Colombia enacting labor reforms.

Standing alongside Santos, Obama called the agreement between their countries a "win-win." Obama announced that the trade pact can be fully enforced next month, now that Colombia has enacted a series of protections for workers and labor unions.

Obama says it will support "thousands of U.S. jobs" and give Colombia a market for exports. He says it will be beneficial for workers and the environment because there are "strong protections." Obama says those are "commitments that we are going to fulfill."

Business leaders support the agreement, but labor leaders say Colombia still has a poor record of violence against labor union members. The AFL-CIO says it is deeply disappointed by the administration's move.

Obama had hoped to keep his trip to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas focused on the economy and the prospect of the region's rapid economic rise as a growth opportunity for American businesses.

That message was quickly overshadowed by an alleged prostitution scandal involving Secret Service personnel who were in Colombia to set up security for Obama's trip, as well as a rift with Israel over Iran's nuclear program.

This weekend, negotiators from the United States and five other world powers were in Turkey for a fresh round of nuclear talks with Iran.

While previous talks have done little to dissuade Iran from moving forward on its nuclear program, diplomats called the latest negotiations constructive and useful. Both sides agreed to hold more talks in Baghdad at the end of May.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted that strategy, saying the U.S. and world powers gave Tehran a "freebie" by agreeing to hold more talks next month.

Obama fired back.

"So far, at least, we haven't given away anything, other than the opportunity for us to negotiate and see if Iran comes to the table in good faith," he said Sunday. But, Obama warned, "The clock's ticking."

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and says it's not seeking to build a bomb.

Winding down his three-day trip in the port city of Cartagena, Obama also sought to offer hope for fresh start with Cuba, saying the U.S. would welcome the communist-run island's transition to democracy.

There could be an opportunity for such a shift to take place in the coming years, Obama said.

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