Colombia’s deputy Foreign Minister asked UNASUR Monday to discuss the
illegal arms trade on the continent as the country itself is subject to
controversy over a pending deal with the United States about an
expansion of military cooperation.
Deputy Foreign Minister Clemencia Forero, who represents Colombia at the UNASUR meeting currently held in Ecuador, requested the Defense and Foreign Ministers to include the illegal arms trade, armed groups and the arming of member states in the summit held later this month.
“This dialogue should include, in addition to agreements on military cooperation of UNASUR member states, other topics of special interest, such as illicit arms trafficking, the activity of illegal armed groups and the arms race,” the deputy Minister said.
Forero replaces President Alvaro Uribe and Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez, who refuse to attend the UNASUR meeting to discuss Colombia’s plans to allow U.S. troops access to Colombian military bases.
Colombia accuses neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela of having ties to the country’s biggest rebel group, FARC, and is worried about Venezuela’s ongoing purchase of weapons. Both Ecuador and Venezuela say to feel threatened by the planned expansion of U.S. troops in Colombia.
UNASUR was to discuss the U.S.-Colombian military plans Monday, but decided to postpone this discussion until the Defense and Foreign Ministers summit later this month.