"The United States' relationship with Colombia is no longer defined solely by confronting criminality and subversion, but by working on the lasting prosperity that we are working to provide for people."
The United States recently hosted the fourth round of the High-Level Partnership Dialogue between the United States and Colombia. Secretary of State John Kerry opened the event noting, "The United States' relationship with Colombia is no longer defined solely by confronting criminality and subversion, but… by working on the lasting prosperity that we are working to provide for people."
For example, the United States and Colombia have projects to protect the environment, expand educational opportunities, promote human rights, and strengthen our energy networks. Also, the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement has brought immediate economic benefits to both nations. During the first year of the Agreement, Colombia diversified its export base with more than 1,300 companies exporting goods to the United States for the first time.
At the High-Level Partnership Dialogue, delegations from both countries looked ahead at how we can work together even more effectively.
"Underlying all of our cooperation," said Secretary Kerry, "is our shared commitment to protecting fundamental human rights." In support of this commitment, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced two new programs totaling $22 million to support local Colombian organizations to increase civil society participation in implementation of the Victims Law, prevent and respond to human rights violations, and improve access to justice. The U.S. delegation also urged Colombia to combat impunity, protect vulnerable individuals, and ensure the peace process does not result in amnesty for serious human rights violators on either side of the conflict.
During the dialogue, Colombia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to fight trafficking in persons by increasing cooperation on law enforcement efforts and reinforcing regional partnerships.
Additionally, a new U.S.-Colombian Sister Parks program will bolster the planning, development, and operation of national parks in Colombia.
The two countries also committed to expanding opportunities for Colombians to study in the U.S. and for more American students to study in Colombia, in keeping with President Barack Obama's 100,000 Strong in the America's initiative to promote educational exchanges with all of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.
"There's no question in my mind," said Secretary Kerry, "that [the] relationship [between the United States and Colombia] has special value, special importance, has a special place in this hemisphere, and we really look forward to developing further this partnership and this friendship."