The United States supports Colombia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after a meeting with Colombian Foreign
Minister Jaime Bermudez Tuesday over the recently completed military cooperation deal.
“All” countries of South America should cooperate with Colombia in its combat against terrorism, Clinton said in a press conference. Many South American countries expressed concerns about the deal allowing U.S. military to use Colombian bases for counter-narcotic operations in the region.
The U.S. Secretary of State emphasized that the agreement is bilateral and is not intended to affect, under any circumstances other nations and only serve the counter drug trafficking and terrorist threats.
“These threats are real, and the United States is committed to
supporting the government of Colombia in its efforts to provide
security to all its citizens,” Clinton said.
The Secretary of State reiterated the United States will not establish U.S. military bases in Colombia but use Colombian bases for its operations. “The United States does not have and does not seek bases inside Colombia.”
Furthermore, Clinton assured that the U.S. will not “en masse” send soldiers to Colombia but only the amount that is authorized by Colombian congress.
Bermudez, speaking through an interpreter, said Colombia wants to
strengthen cooperation with the United States in fighting drug
trafficking and terror.
“What Colombia needs is more effective
mechanisms of cooperation,” he said. “We have suffered, and we have
learned from the lessons as a result of this suffering.”
He said cooperation with the United States will benefit the region, as well as Colombia.
The ten-year lease of bases is not yet signed, but expected in the “near future.”
The planned increase of U.S. military in Colombia led to negative reactions all over South America. Venezuela and Ecuador, both very critical of U.S. foreign policy in the region consider the pact a threat to their sovereignty, but also countries that generally support the U.S. voiced their concern.