Ties between Colombia and the United States could be severely damaged
if U.S. Congress doesn’t approve the free trade deal between the two
countries, Colombian vice-President Francisco Santos said Wednesday.
Santos told British network BBC that the not signing of teh free trade pact would be a “slap in the face” to a strong ally.
The vice-President said he didn’t think the trade agreement would be passed during the remaining days of current President Bush and wasn’t optimistic about the possibility of it being signed under the Presidency of Barack Obama.
He said it was critical that the incoming administration saw
US-Colombia relations “not in the context of what special interest
groups want but in the light of our long-term relationship”.
“Not approving the free trade agreement would be certainly a
slap in the face to the strongest strategic ally that the US has in the
continent,” he said.
Santos played down the significance of the “Plan Colombia” US
military aid package – worth more than half a billion dollars annually
– aimed at fighting drug production.
“I don’t think this package is as important or relevant as it was six years ago,” he said.
Colombia’s drug enforcement budget alone cost $1bn a year, he said.