Representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) met with Colombian leaders on Monday to collect information on the ongoing peace talks with rebel group FARC and to reaffirm the United States’ backing of Plan Colombia.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Assistant Administrator Mark Feierstein met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday to discuss economic and social development programs as well as the progress of the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and rebel group FARC in Havana, Cuba.
“I just had the opportunity to meet with President Santos and his team,” said Shah according to a Colombian presidential press release. “The objective of the meeting was to transmit the message to President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry about the peace talks. This was an opportunity to point out all of the successes of Plan Colombia through the Colombian government and all of the activities they have accomplished.”
Shah also affirmed the United States’ commitment to continue to aid development of the Andean nation, and mentioned the possibility of private investment in rural areas of the country.
“The United States remains a key strategic ally for the development of Plan Colombia. We believe that our alliance should be broad and comprehensive to cover issues like agricultural development, human development [and ] human rights. Mainly we are discussing the opportunity to bring private investment to the rural areas of Colombia,” explained Shah.
Shah also used the opportunity to reiterate the U.S. backing of the peace process and expressed their optimism regarding the outcome.
“The U.S. government is optimistic that the process will be very productive … As President Obama has mentioned and clarified on a number of occasions, the United States will continue giving its support to Colombia during the whole process. And as he has already mentioned, we are going to respond to all of President Santos’ requests to help in the development of this process,” said the USAID administrator.
The USAID officials also met with demobilized ex-combatants from Colombia’s armed conflict as well as members of the Prevention of Child Recruitment into Illegal Armed Groups program, a program that has received both technical and financial support from USAID.
On Tuesday the representatives attended a land restitution event where the government transferred land titles to those displaced by Colombia’s internal conflict.