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Obama praises Martelly over election reform push

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US President Barack Obama on Thursday praised Haiti's President Michel Martelly for making progress towards an accord that could see delayed legislative elections take place later this year.

Obama welcomed Martelly to the White House and also promised to stand with Haiti as it continues to rebuild after an enormous earthquake which killed 250,000 people four years ago.

"I'm very encouraged by the fact that Haiti has now made progress on an election law that could ensure elections this year and help to resolve some of the political roadblocks that have stalled some progress in the country," Obama said ahead of the talks.

Obama also said that Washington was committed to helping Haiti on the long road back from the earthquake.

"It's been a very slow and difficult process, and I think we are all recognizing that we have a lot more work to do," Obama said.

Nearly 200,000 people in Haiti remain homeless after the devastating 2010 earthquake shattered the country and its basic infrastructure.

Obama also pledged to talk to Martelly about reforms in human rights, prisons, the judiciary and corruption.

Martelly, speaking in English, said in short remarks that he would discuss security, narco trafficking and his engagement "building a strong democratic state" in Haiti.

Martelly is currently in talks with the opposition and parliament to end a months-long political stalemate over holding parliamentary elections, which were due to take place two months ago.

On Wednesday, he met Secretary of State John Kerry, who noted that economic and health care indicators were trending up in Haiti in a positive direction.

col/rcw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140206/obama-praises-martelly-over-election-reform-push