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United States and Colombia are moving to strengthen security cooperation. The U.S. and Colombian governments reached a provisional agreement on a Defense Cooperation Agreement or DCA on August 14th. A final review of the agreement is underway in anticipation of signature by both countries.
The United States and Colombia enjoy a close and strategic bilateral relationship. The anticipated signing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement will deepen that relationship. The agreement will facilitate effective bilateral cooperation on security matters in Colombia, including narcotics production and trafficking, terrorism, illicit smuggling of all types, and humanitarian and natural disasters assistance. The agreement is bilateral, and does not pertain to any other country.
The Defense Cooperation Agreement does not permit the establishment of any United States base in Colombia, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made clear that we do not seek any such base. The agreement does ensure continued U.S. access to specific agreed Colombian facilities in order to undertake mutually agreed upon activities within Colombia.
The agreement facilitates U.S. access to 3 Colombian air force bases, located at Palanquero, Apiay and Malambo and other Colombian military facilities as mutually agreed. All these military installations are, and will remain, under Colombian control. Command and control, administration, and security will continue to be handled by the Colombian armed forces.
All activities conducted at or from these Colombian bases by the United States will take place only with the express prior approval of the Colombian government. The presence of U.S. personnel at these facilities would be on an as needed, and mutually agreed upon, basis.
The signing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement would not imply an increase in U.S. personnel in Colombia. In fact, the presence of U.S. military and associated personnel in Colombia is governed by statute, with Congressionally established caps on the U.S. presence in Colombia. No more than 800 U.S. military personnel and 600 civilian contractors may be assigned to Colombia.
That cap has been and will be faithfully respected, and actual presence of such U.S. personnel has averaged half or less of the authorized number. Consistent with U.S. policy to nationalize U.S.-supported activities by turning them over to Colombian authorities, U.S. personnel presence has been in gradual decline. It is the United States' expectation and commitment that those trends will continue.
The United States looks forward to continued partnership with its friend and ally Colombia.