Uruguay President Jose Mujica Cordano and President Obama. / AFP
The president of Uruguay lived up to his reputation Monday -- he did not wear a tie to his meeting with President Obama.
Jose Mujica Cordano did, however, wear regular shoes, not the sandals he sometimes sports.
The 78-year-old Uruguayan leader is also known for speaking his mind, as Obama found out before their Oval Office meeting.
"The first thing he said to me is that my hair has become much grayer," Obama said.
In brief remarks, the presidents talked about economic and cultural ties between the U.S. and Uruguay.
The leaders did not make reference to items for which Mujica is noted: His agreement to take detainees from the counter-terrorism prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and his leadership of the world's first nation to totally legalize marijuana.
Mujica did talk about the evils of smoking (tobacco), noting that 8 million have died from it.
"It's murder," he said. "We are in an arduous fight ... against very strong (corporate) interests."
He also said the United States needs to become a bilingual country, "because the strength of Latin women is admirable, and they will fill this country."
As the AFP wire service put it, Mujica "is a president unlike any other. He's a former guerrilla, never wears a tie, lives on a modest farm with a disabled dog and has championed his country's legalization of cannabis."
Also notes AFP:
"A typical day for the 78-year-old might see him welcoming a journalist onto his farm and sharing a recipe for tomato sauce, then heading to an official ceremony, followed by lunch with his driver in the center of town. After which, perhaps he'll meet with his ministers and then stand on the street and hand out some pamphlets he's written."
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