Clinton met first with Partido de la U’s Santos and discussed topics such as Plan Colombia, the pending free trade agreement (FTA) between their countries, and the United States’ use of Colombian military bases.
Santos, speaking to the press after the encounter, called the 35 minute meeting “cordial” and “fruitful.”
According to Santos, both him and Clinton agreed that the U.S.-Colombian military base agreement had created an unnecessary “storm” in the region, for which he accepted responsibility. Santos admitted that he had made the mistake of not publicizing the agreement when it was originally signed, because there “was nothing bad or dangerous to other nations,” included in the pact.
The signing of the agreement, which grants the U.S. access to seven Colombian military bases, created an uproar in the region that led to the deterioration of Colombia’s ties with other countries in the region.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, in a press conference with Clinton on Tuesday, said “We have no reason to hide it, [the agreement] is a worrying issue for Ecuador and I would say for the majority of the countries in UNASUR.”
In regards to the trade agreement, Santos told press that Clinton said the agreement’s delay stems not from a lack of will on the part of President Barack Obama, but that it is purely a legal issue within the U.S.
Earlier on Wednesday, Colombian businessmen voiced their frustrations with the continued delay in the FTA’s passage and demanded that it be ratified soon. The FTA was signed in 2006 but has not not been passed by U.S. congress, because of opposition to the bill from Democrats due to Colombia’s human rights record.
Santos also highlighted to Clinton the advances Colombia has made under the U.S.-financed Plan Colombia, and told her that the time has come to “evolve the policy and work together even more.”
After meeting Santos, Clinton held a meeting with the Green Party’s Mockus. The former Bogota mayor, speaking to the press after the meeting, said Clinton was very attentive and expressed interest in his proposed strategies to combat narco-terrorism, and that he felt he had “a great quantity of ethics in common” with her.
Regarding Colombia’s fight against the drug trade, Mockus told Clinton that he feels “it is necessary to punish the sin, not the sinner.”
Mockus also said that he and Clinton discussed the subject of journalism in Colombia, which the Green Party candidate said “is protected by law, but there are spaces within society that have a deep hatred against journalism … something incomprehensible in the U.S.”
In addition to meeting the two candidates battling in Colombia’s upcoming presidential election, scheduled for June 20, Clinton is also scheduled to meet with current President Alvaro Uribe.
The secretary of state is currently wrapping up her South American tour, which started last week in Peru at a meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, followed by a visit to Ecuador.