Colombia takes Clinton’s word for swift passage of FTA

Colombia’s foreign minister said Wednesday she takes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her word that she is “absolutely sure” a long-delayed free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries will pass U.S. Congress.

Minister Maria Angela Holguin, who met with Clinton in Washington on Tuesday, told radio station Caracol that “the FTA is their issue. We have made all the dates. The rest is an internal political problem, which has nothing to do with us. I trust it will be passed and take the word of the United States.”

Holguin also told the radio station that relations between Bogota and Washington have “profoundly changed” under the administration of Juan Manuel Santos and, as promised by both governments, have broadened.

“It’s great to tell that Colombia and the United States talk about other things than drug trafficking,” the Minister said.

After a deal between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Colombian counterpart Santos about the improvement of security for labor right workers, Bogota was hoping for a quick passage of the trade deal through U.S. Congress. However, this process was suspended immediately afterwards when Obama demanded that Republican lawmakers first approve an extension to a retraining program, aiming to protect American workers, before sending agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress.

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