Improving relations between Caracas and Bogota is top of the agenda for the new U.S ambassador for Colombia, Michael McKinley.
The diplomat said during a hearing at the Commitee for Foreign Affairs in the U.S Senate. that the election of President-elect Juan Manuel Santos had renewed interest in initiating dialogue between Colombia and Venezuela, and that if confirmed he would work towards it.
In the absence of objections, the committee intends to ratify McKinley in two weeks as replacement to current Ambassador William Brownfield. The new ambassador is expected to take office in Colombia shortly after the inauguration of Santos.
McKinley stated that human rights and the fight against drug-trafficking were also high on the agenda. The diplomat expressed his wish to “build on progress” made by a “200-year friendship” between Colombia and U.S. and to work to demobilize terrorist and guerrilla factions who insist on “turning back the clock.”
McKinley has more than 27 years experience in the U.S Foreign Service. Born in Venezuela, he is currently serving as ambassador to Peru.
The diplomat also reiterated that the administration of President Obama is committed to advancing a free trade agreement with Colombia, which has been awaiting legislative ratification since November 2006.