U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently participated in the fifth round of the U.S.-Colombia High Level Partnership Dialogue in Bogota. In his opening remarks, Deputy Secretary Blinken noted that progress Colombia has made since the first dialogue five years ago comes as a result of “the courage and resilience of the Colombian people, who are translating steady economic and security gains into a strong foundation for shared prosperity and peace.”
Among the many areas of cooperation, the United States announced that the U.S. Agency for International Development intends to provide $800,000 to the Organization of American States to support Colombia’s peace process and verify land restitution, reparation, truth telling, and reconciliation; peace and transitional justice; and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants. The United States firmly supports Colombian efforts to build the just and durable peace its people deserve.
To bolster and expand Colombia’s humanitarian demining efforts, the United States also announced an additional $5 million over the next two years for civilian and military demining activities. Since 2006, the United States has provided more than $21 million to clear mines so that farmers can plant and children can play outside and walk to school without fear of losing their limbs or lives.
The United States also underscored its strong support of Colombia’s efforts to promote sustainable energy resource development. That is why USAID announced an $18.5 million program with the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy aimed at developing renewable energy and energy efficiency. We are also collaborating on developing the first Solar Decathlon in Latin America in Cali.
The U.S. and Colombia are also identifying ways to help unlock the potential of young people, especially women and girls. Through President Barack Obama’s Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas Initiative, women have learned how to use low-cost technology to grow their businesses. In addition, the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative is increasing learning and understanding as more Colombian and American students study in one another’s countries.
The United States and Colombia have seen our relationship move to a true partnership. Indeed, according to Deputy Secretary Blinken, “We used to ask ‘what can the United States do for Colombia?’ Now it is ‘what can we do with Colombia?’ And that is a tremendous opportunity for the United States and we believe for Colombia as well.”