President Bush called on Congress Wednesday to approve a free-trade agreement with Colombia, saying "it is very important for this nation to stand with democracies."

Standing on the White House lawn with visiting Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Bush called the pact with Colombia, Peru and Panama "good for the United States, good for job creators, farmers, workers, good for Colombia."

Bush said votes in Congress on such trade treaties "are more than just trade votes. They are signals to South America that we stand with nations that are willing to make hard decisions on behalf of the people."

"So I urge them (lawmakers) to be open-minded and listen to his record," the president added, "because it's in our interest that they do so."

Uribe thanked the United States for its help, saying security in his country is important for all.

He said it is "very important" for the United States to work with Colombia as it tries to combat drug trafficking and defeat terrorism.

Uribe said he appreciated "the hand all of you have given our country ... to promote freedom."