Colombia’s Minister of Defense said Wednesday his country’s relationship with the U.S. has risen to a “high strategic level” after a series of meetings in Washington D.C.
After a meeting with U.S Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday morning, Juan Carlos Pinzon highlighted that Colombia is no longer simply a receiver of U.S. aid, but a strategic partner that will serve to support other nations in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational crime.
“Colombia is no longer seen as a problem. It is seen rather as a place where there are opportunities and situations that can serve as examples and this strategic partnership between Colombia and the United States with allow them to collaborate with other countries in the region that require the security expertise that Colombia has been developing,” Pinzon explained during a press conference in Washington.
The minister said that the two nations continue to work together amid speculation of the U.S withdrawing aid to Colombia.
“Today the relationship between Colombia and the United States goes far beyond Plan Colombia. While it is true that for some years together we have been planning a reduction in aid, our relationship is beginning to intensify in other areas that also have implications for security efforts,” clarified Pinzon.
According to the minister, Colombia’s armed forces are increasingly recognized for its capabilities in the fight against various threats, which have led the nation to become a regional leader in defense and security.
“Between 2010 and 2012, 9200 soldiers and policemen from 45 countries in the Americas, Africa and even Europe, have been trained either in Colombia or by Colombians in matters ranging from narco-trafficking to urban security, development of armed institutions, special operations, intelligence and the fight against kidnapping among other areas,” said Pinzon.
Hagel also mentioned that Colombia “provides significant capabilities that have helped increase stability in the region.”
The Colombian minister traveled to Washington last week and also attended meetings with the head of the CIA, John Brennan and the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Michele Leonhart, among others, where he shared Colombia’s progress in defense and security issues.
Pinzon is the first Latin American leader to have met with Chuck Hagel since he became the U.S. defense secretary on February 27.
- Ministro Pinzón, primer funcionario latinoamericano que visita a Secretario de Defensa de Estados Unidos (Ministerio de Defensa Nacional)
- Mindefensa destaca relación estratégica entre Colombia y Estados Unidos (Ministerio de Defensa Nacional)
- Hagel Discusses Partnership With Colombian Defense Minister (U.S. Department of Defense)
- Pinzón asegura que EEUU mantendrá y fortalecerá la ayuda a Colombia en materia de seguridad (Europa Press)
- Pinzón: “EE. UU. mantendrá apoyo antiterrorista” (La Semana)