By Dialogo July 14, 2010 US President Barack Obama thanked the Dominican Republic Monday for help in battling crises in Haiti, Honduras and on drugs trafficking as he hosted President Leonel Fernandez at the White House. Fernandez meanwhile praised Obama for keeping Latin American issues on his agenda, as he copes with economic and diplomatic crises on multiple fronts. “One of the first messages I wanted to deliver was our appreciation for the role the Dominican Republic played in helping the international community respond to the crisis in Haiti after the devastating earthquake,” Obama said. “The Dominican Republic’s role, President Fernandez’s role in particular, was extraordinarily important. It saved lives, it continues, as we look at how we can reconstruct and can rebuild.” Obama spoke in the Oval Office as Haiti marked six months since hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the massive earthquake, with multitudes of people still homeless and international aid only slowly trickling in. The US leader also praised the Dominican Republic for its role in feverish regional diplomacy following the ouster of former president Manuel Zelaya in a coup just over a year ago. Zelaya, now in exile in the Dominican Republic, accused the United States of having backed his ouster — a claim the State Department has denied. As always, when he meets leaders from Latin America, Obama stressed the need for a joint, region-wide effort to crack down on drug trafficking and related violence.