December 12, 2017
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Biden pleased security now takes back seat in US-Colombian agenda

Colombia''s President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and US Vice-President Joe Biden shake hands during a joint press conference.

BOGOTÁ – In his first visit to Colombia in more than a decade, US Vice-President Joe Biden said he’s pleased security concerns can now take a back seat to trade and economic issues in talks with Washington’s longtime ally.

Biden praised President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday for helping lead Latin America toward a “middle class, democratic and secure” future.

He reiterated US support for Santos’ efforts to make peace with FARC rebels, noting apparent progress in Havana with a land reform agreement in talks on ending a half-century-old conflict.

Biden did note Washington’s insistence that human rights violators be tried in Colombia’s civilian courts. US officials have expressed concern over a new law that could shift cases to the military justice system.

Biden held a meeting with Santos yesterday, which lasted for two hours, expressing the US’ desire to become an observer in the Pacific Alliance: the Latin American bloc formed by Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

They also discussed energy, education, trade, security and enviromental themes.

“Vice-President Biden expressed the United States’ desire to take part in the Pacific Alliance as an observer. I told him that Colombia would back their request and that we would discuss it with the other countries the next time we meet,” said Santos.

“The main talking-point was national security. I told President Santos that the United States is firmly behind his efforts to broker an historic peace deal with FARC rebels,” said Biden, pointing out that the US “supports all Colombian leaders at the negotiation table.”

According to Víctor Garzón, head of the faculty of law and political science at the University of la Sabana in Bogotá, “Biden’s visit to Colombia is a clear gesture of the United States’ support of the peace process.”

The analyst also suggested that his visit “is aimed at keeping an eye on the agreements that are being made in sensitive areas for the US, such as terrorism and drug-trafficking.”

Biden last night left Colombia and continued his short tour of the region in Trinidad and Tobago. It will end tomorrow in Brazil.

Prize for terrorists

Former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe considered the land reform agreement that Santos’ goverment made with the rebel organization FARC on Sunday is “a prize” for the “terrorists.”

Using his Twitter account, Uribe criticized the land deal made during negotiations in Havana which aim to put an end to the armed conflict that has been going on for fifty years.

He said the FARC “kill our soldiers and policemen” and then the government “rewards them with a land deal.”

Herald with Telam, AP

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