BOGOTÁ — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met on Monday with Colombia’s newly elected president, Gustavo Petro, a leftist leader whose positions on Cuba, the drug war and Venezuela’s anti-American leadership all break from those of the Biden administration, testing the two countries’ longtime close relationship.
Mr. Blinken arrived in Bogotá at the start of a five-day trip through South America, where he will meet with a trio of leaders elected in recent months on left-wing populist platforms. The trip comes a day after Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, placed second behind his leftist challenger, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in a first-round presidential vote that sets up a runoff election on Oct. 30.
The United States has historically close ties with Colombia, having supported its long military campaign against drug cartels and, more recently, having cooperated with Mr. Petro’s right-wing predecessor, Iván Duque, to isolate the populist Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro.
But the June election of Mr. Petro to succeed Mr. Duque is placing stress on that relationship.
In a joint news conference with Mr. Petro at Bogotá’s grand presidential palace, Mr. Blinken downplayed any differences. “We’ve been listening to each other, and we’re learning from one another,” he said.