U.S. President Barack Obama praised Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos here Tuesday for "his bold and brave efforts to bring about a lasting and just peace" in the Andean nation.

Facing reporters at the White House, Santos said he was grateful for the support expressed by Obama for Bogota's peace process with leftist FARC guerrillas.

"It's a process that is doing very well, and it is my hope that this is a conflict that will come to an end," the Colombian president said.

Obama and Santos met in the Oval Office for a little over an hour.

"There are many challenges ahead," the U.S. leader said of Santos' negotiations with the FARC. "But the fact that he has taken this step I think is right, because it sends a signal to the people of Colombia that it is possible to unleash the enormous potential if we can move beyond this conflict."

Obama also said Tuesday that he favored continuing the security cooperation between the United States and Colombia, adding that the success of this alliance over the past few years has allowed the bilateral agenda to be expanded to include collaboration in other fields like education, energy and new technologies.

In that regard, Santos said that bilateral relations "find themselves at their best moment ever."

Santos also said he had shared with Obama his idea of creating a U.S.-Colombian "alliance for progress and peace" covering all Latin America.

The bilateral trade accord that went into effect in May 2012 has created jobs in both Colombia and the United States, Obama said.

Obama also reiterated Washington's support for Colombia's successful bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. EFE