U.S., Colombia Strengthen Cooperation, Agree on Goals
By Army Sgt. Sara Wood
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 11, 2007 Defense leaders from the United States and Colombia met here last week to discuss goals for continued cooperation between the two countries’ defense establishments.
In a joint statement after the sixth U.S.-Colombia bilateral working group June 6 to 9, representatives from the two countries said they agreed to continue working on establishing security, seeking peace, fighting drugs, and building the economy of Colombia. These initiatives were included in Plan Colombia, a bipartisan initiative to deepen democracy in Colombia, on which the two countries have made progress in the last six years.
According to the statement, the working group agreed that efforts over the coming year should concentrate on five areas:
-- Supporting Colombia's efforts to share its security and counternarcotics expertise with regional and international partners;
-- Supporting the Ministry of Defense's major restructuring activities in the areas of personnel, education, logistics, mission capacity enhancement, intelligence reform, and combating corruption;
-- Enhancing budgetary planning and developing a plan transferring responsibility for selected elements of the programs currently supported by Foreign Military Financing and counternarcotics funding to the government of Colombia;
-- Continue reforming military penal justice; and
-- Strengthen military and police intelligence coordination and capabilities.
The United States and Colombia reaffirmed the importance of maintaining strong defense relations and cooperation, as well as working cooperatively to promote security and stability in the region, the representatives said. The U.S. Defense Department and the Ministry of Defense of Colombia will continue to work together to address common challenges, they emphasized.