Secretary Rice Urges Free Trade Agreements

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging Congress to pass three Latin American free trade agreements.

Rice says if the agreements are defeated, it would send a "loud and clear" signal that "the United States cannot be trusted to keep its promises."

She also says it would prove a setback for the leaders of Peru, Panama and Colombia as they work to strengthen democracy in their countries.

The Bush administration has been trying to jump-start its stalled trade agenda as the nation's trade deficits have soared to record highs.

The deal with Peru and a separate free trade agreement with Panama are given good chances of passage by Congress this year. But passage of the agreement with Colombia is seen as less likely because of concerns about human rights there.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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