Washington, DC - U.S. Secretary John Kerry and Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken led the U.S. delegation to the sixth round of the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Partnership Dialogue (HLPD) at the Department of State yesterday.
Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines also led the U.S. delegation to the fifth U.S.-Colombia High-Level Strategic Security Dialogue (HLSSD), which was also held at the Department, while Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin led the Colombian delegation for the HLPD. Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas and Foreign Minister Holguin led the Colombian delegation for the HLSSD.
Through these dialogues, the United States and Colombia strengthened our coordination at a pivotal moment in Colombia’s history, as it ends more than 50 years of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and begins to lay the foundations for a just and lasting peace.
Sixteen years ago, the Colombian government developed an integrated strategy to confront the monumental challenges facing Colombia, which became known as Plan Colombia. On February 4, President Obama announced Peace Colombia, a new framework for bilateral cooperation. This multi-year initiative would refocus U.S. support to help Colombia consolidate the enormous gains made under Plan Colombia. The 2016 HLPD and HLSSD advanced the President’s “Peace Colombia” strategy, refocusing our engagement and emphasizing three broad pillars: (1) security, including counternarcotics, demobilization of FARC fighters, and demining; (2) governance, through expanding state presence and public institutions; and (3) justice and other assistance for conflict victims.
At the HLPD, delegations from the two countries held discussions on expanding cooperation in the areas of Democracy, Human Rights and Good Governance; Energy; Social and Economic Opportunities; Environmental Protection and Climate Change; and Education, Culture, and Sports.
It was announced yesterday that Colombia ranks second in the Western Hemisphere region as grant winners for the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grants. To date, eleven Colombian higher education institutions in partnership with U.S. universities and community colleges have received the 100K Innovation Fund grant with support from the Colombian government through SENA and private sector partners such as Santander Bank and ExxonMobil Foundation. The U.S. government reiterated its support of the Government of Colombia commitments via SENA, Colciencias, and ICETEX to expand future 100K Innovation Fund grant opportunities to increase student mobility to and from Colombia.
The United States and Colombia also issued joint statements regarding cooperation on sports and cultural diplomacy initiatives, cooperation on academic mobility, and on Colombia’s participation in the Department of Homeland Security Global Entry Program. The United States and Colombia also are working to expand cooperation on clean energy and climate change, which will support implementation of Colombia’s Nationally Determined Contribution. In addition, Colombia announced its intent to join the Equal Futures Partnership, a U.S.-initiated multilateral initiative designed to encourage member countries to empower women economically and politically.
At the HLSSD, the delegations discussed joint efforts to promote regional security, post-accord security strategies in Colombia, and how Colombia can support international security efforts.
The dialogues are flagship opportunities for the United States and Colombia to deepen our cooperation across a broad range of bilateral issues.