President Bush and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez agreed Thursday to expand trade and commercial ties between the two nations.

"One of the interesting topics that the president brought up was renewable energy, a subject that is very dear to my heart and necessary for our country," Bush said after meeting with Vazquez in the Oval Office.

Vazquez said technical experts for the two sides will meet later in the year in Uruguay's capital of Montevideo.

"We have agreed to work to expand, intensify and strengthen our trade relations," he said, in Spanish that was translated, as he sat at Bush's side.

Vazquez was elected in 2004 as the small South American nation's first leftist president, a shift in governance of a longtime U.S. ally that has strengthened Latin America's move toward the left. An oncologist and former mayor of Montevideo, Vazquez has promised to maintain orthodox economic policies while focusing on helping the poor.

Turning to his audience at home, Vazquez said: "I want to say to all of you, without exception, without exclusions, together we will continue to work jointly on this path that we have undertaken in order to further the standard of life with our people."

Bush said he promised Vazquez the billions in American aid that are spent "in the neighborhood are all aimed at justice and giving people a chance to realize their dreams. "