The international military alliance NATO has agreed to begin cooperation talks with Colombia, the country’s president announced much to to the fury of neighboring Venezuela.
President Juan Manuel Santos announced the pending talks on Friday in a Christmas speech at one of the country’s largest military bases.
We filed the request almost nine years ago for a cooperation agreement, which is the highest position at NATO for countries that are not member states … and they handed me the letter that says Colombia has been accepted to begin conversations on this cooperation.
President Juan Manuel Santos
The announcement infuriated Colombia’s neighbor Venezuela, which is part of a block of South American nations governed by leftist governments that are highly critical of US and NATO.
“The Venezuelan government firmly opposes the intent to introduce external factors with nuclear capacity in our region,” Caracas said in a press release.
According to Venezuela’s leftist government, the entry of NATO, “whose recent and past actions profess the politics of war,” in South America could “”generate destabilizing elements and war” in the continent.
Colombia, formally an associate of the military union has been seeking a full NATO partnership since 2009, but has yet to overcome numerous domestic hurdles to actually make this happen.
If Colombia wants to become a partner, it will primarily have to convince the country’s Constitutional Court that struck down a bill allowing this cooperation in 2015.