The commander of U.S. Southern Command said on Tuesday that he is willing to strengthen cooperation with Colombia.
According to local media, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, General John F. Kelly, reiterated his country’s willingness to strengthen cooperation between the two countries to combat drug trafficking.
Earlier this year, Kelly said “in the Southcom area of responsibility, there are any number of threats to our [U.S.] security, not the least of which are illicit trafficking, particularly in drugs and their precursors, and the spreading, growing sophistication of transnational organized crime syndicates.”
“A cooperative, partnered approach [with Colombia] not only helps ensure U.S. national security interests, it also helps contribute to U.S. economic security by promoting capable partners willing and able to help the United States confront security challenges in the hemisphere,” said the General.
“The real problem, in my estimation, and if you ask almost anyone in South America or Central America they’ll tell you the same thing. The real problem is in the United States. It’s the demand problem,” Kelly said, one that costs the United States nearly $200 billion a year.
Kelly met with Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon in Bogota and reportedly said that “Colombia has proven an important partner, committed to security in the Western Hemisphere and the international community.”
The U.S. has supplied Colombia with extensive military aid during the last two decades of armed conflict, despite calls from human rights organizations to withhold aid due to human rights concerns.