U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden — in Colombia until Monday — praised the country’s peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, and promised continued U.S. support for the conflict’s victims.
In an interview with leading daily El Tiempo, Biden praised Colombians and their president, Juan Manuel Santos, alike for the ongoing efforts to end the armed conflict that has been wrecking havoc in the South American country since 1964.
“The leaders of Colombia, President Santos and his administration included, deserve an enormous recognition for launching this serious and well-designed peace process to put an end to the conflict, so that Colombians can enjoy the peace and prosperity they so deserve,” the U.S. vice-president was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“Colombia has already come a miraculous way towards security and prosperity,” said Biden, who clarified that “we know well that the Colombians themselves are the real leaders in this process.
According to Biden, the United States will continue to aid Colombia, also after an eventual peace deal with the rebel group whose war against the state pushed Colombia to the brink of being a failed state 15 years ago.
“We have supported Colombia’s efforts to improve the security situation and confront the factors the conflict originated from,” Biden told El Tiempo, adding that “we are prepared to continue supporting Colombia in its attempt to move forward towards a future that includes the restitution of lands and the reparation of victims by the government, the search for more viable options for those citizens who operate in the illicit economy, and the respect for human rights and the rule of law.”
This future support will increasingly be not about military aid, but will also concern issues of “economic, social, environmental nature, as well as human rights, rule of law, science and technology, and global and regional [issues],” the U.S. vice-president said.
This change in U.S. policy on Colombia has already been changing, Biden said.
The United States “cooperate[s] in many areas of mutual interest and the constructive work of Colombia with us in security programs, initiatives regarding environmental and economic development, energy [and] the climate,” according to the U.S. vice-president.
Biden will visit the Colombian President to reportedly talk about security and trade on Monday, after which he will continue a mini South American tour that also takes him to Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.