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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 03:25 GMT
Bush stops in Guatemala for talks
George W Bush and Oscar Berger in Guatemala
Mr Bush said he was keen to push through immigration reforms
The issues of immigration and drug trafficking have dominated talks in Guatemala between President Bush and his counterpart Oscar Berger.

Mr Bush said he hoped to push reforms through Congress soon to allow more immigrants to work legally in the US.

Protests greeted his one-day visit, the fourth stop on his Latin American tour.

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, has used a parallel tour to speak out against what he calls the interference of the "American empire".

Mr Chavez paid a brief visit to Jamaica, where he met Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, before arriving in Haiti late on Monday.

He was greeted by Haitian President Rene Preval and crowds of flag-waving supporters. The two leaders are expected to discuss aid for the Caribbean nation.

The Venezuelan president has already visited Nicaragua, Bolivia and Argentina, where he started his tour on Friday with a massive anti-Bush rally.

Deportation question

Several hundred protesters, mainly from student groups, trade unions and indigenous communities, demonstrated near the presidential palace in Guatemala City as Mr Bush and Mr Berger held talks.


Speaking at a joint press conference afterwards, Mr Bush said he hoped to push immigration reforms, including a temporary worker programme, through Congress in the next few months.

"I told the president, it seems like to me we got to get this done by August, I hope so," he said.

"We don't believe in timetables. But I do believe in pressing hard and working with Democrats and Republicans to get it done."

However, Mr Bush insisted deportations of illegal workers - a contentious issue in Guatemala because hundreds of thousands of its citizens live illegally in the US - would continue under US law.

Mr Berger responded: "The Guatemalan people would have preferred a more clear and positive response - no more deportations."

Mr Bush promised to stand together with Guatemala in the fight against corruption and drugs trafficking.

After his talks Mr Bush left for Mexico, where he will finish his week-long journey to five Latin American countries.

'Bad energy'

Mr Berger and his wife had earlier taken the president and First Lady Laura Bush to the mainly-indigenous town of Santa Cruz Balanya.

They visited a US military medical training team helping to provide medical and dental care to rural areas.

Mr Bush also called on a Maya agricultural co-operative - where he talked to farmers about the benefits of free trade - and the Maya archaeological site of Iximche.

Indigenous Mayas staged a protest during Mr Bush's visit to Iximche and said they would "cleanse" the ancient site to remove "the bad energy" he had left.

After a stop in Colombia on Sunday, he pledged his personal support to its fight against drugs.

So far, Mr Bush's Latin America trip has produced one deal - an agreement with Brazil for co-operation in the promotion of ethanol, a bio-fuel.

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