“This relationship is evolving beyond drug trafficking, security, and the free trade agreement. It must be a relationship of partners, mature, and based on the priorities of the country and of the new government” of President Juan Manuel Santos, said McKinley.
The ambassador’s statements echoed recent calls by Santos to broaden the relationship with the U.S. “We would like to move from being recipients of aid to being strategic partners. We are looking for a relationship, as President Barack Obama put it himself, that is more face-to-face, where we can help one another” the president said earlier in October.
Colombia is consistently the 5th or 6th largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, and the top recipient of aid in Latin America, receiving more than $8 billion in the last ten years.
In his speech McKinley repeated recent statements that Colombia and the U.S. will continue to collaborate on themes of trade, drug trafficking and security, but said that “we have new ways of working” with the Colombian justice system.
The two countries should work together “50:50” in an “alliance,” said the ambassador. He said the U.S. will work closely with Colombia in the next two years as the country takes a seat on the United Nations Security Council in January 2011.
McKinley also emphasized his support for the Victims Law that President Juan Manuel Santos is trying to pass, which is intended to restore displaced people to their land.
The ambassador took office in Bogota three weeks ago after the departure of former U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield.