The Central American nation of Panama has made notable political and economic progress since the 1989 U.S. military intervention that ousted General Manuel Noriega from power. Under the current administration of President Martin Torrijos, the most significant challenges have included dealing with the funding deficits of the country's social security fund; developing plans for the expansion of the Panama Canal; and combating unemployment and poverty. The United States has close relations with Panama. The current bilateral relationship is characterized by extensive cooperation on counternarcotics efforts, assistance to help Panama assure the security of the Canal and its border with Colombia, and negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.
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