The Latest: Trump: US relations with Panama 'very strong'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Panama President Juan Carlos Varela's visit to the White House (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States has a "very strong" relationship with Panama and is noting the nation's role in building the Panama Canal.

The president and first lady Melania Trump welcomed Panama President Juan Carlos Varela and his wife, Lorena, to the White House.

Trump tells reporters in the Oval Office that the "Panama Canal is doing quite well." He says to Varela, "I think we did a good job building it, right?"

Varela says the U.S. and Panama face many of the same challenges in the region so he says "the idea of this visit is to work closely together."

Trump and Varela are expected to discuss organized crime, immigration and fighting drug trafficking.

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11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is welcoming the president of Panama to the White House for discussions on organized crime, immigration and fighting drug trafficking.

Trump was sitting down with President Juan Carlos Varela in their first face-to-face meeting since the start of the Trump presidency. Varela arrived at the White House Monday morning.

Trump was expected to discuss the U.S. economic partnership with the key Central American leader and ways of addressing unrest in nearby Venezuela.

Venezuela has been grappling with anti-government protests and calls for new presidential elections amid major inflation, crime and food and medical shortages.