The country’s attempts to improve ties with its neighbor Venezuela should not affect Bogota‘s “broad agenda” with Washington, Colombia’s Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin told national radio on Sunday.
“We do not believe that the relations with Venezuela in any way can sink the agenda with the United States and one can not interprete that the relatively good ties with Latin American countries exclude [the U.S.],” Holguin said in an interview with RCN Radio.
The Foreign Minister made the statement after Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer had suggested that Colombia is taking a step back from the U.S. in response to the Americans’ failure to ratify a free trade pact signed by the two countries in 2006.
“There is a feeling that we need to take some distance, and stop making unilateral favors that are not reciprocated,” Oppenheimer quoted Enrique Santos Calderon, former managing editor of newspaper El Tiempo and the brother of Colombia’s president.
But according to Holguin, Bogota’s improved ties within Latin America are favorable for the U.S.
“It is in the U.S.’ interest that Colombia is a country that has no open fronts on all sides, but is recognized and respected in the region,” the foreign minister said.
Following Santos’ inauguration in August, ties with the leftist governments of Ecuador and Venezuela improved drastically, while Bogota and Washington say they are developing a “broader agenda” that is not only focused on the fighting of drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas. Colombia’s ambassador to Washington said on several occasions the country stopped “obsessing” about free trade with the U.S.