On Monday, October 2, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a tour of several South American countries, with Colombia as its first stop.
In Colombia, where he will be on Monday and Tuesday, he will meet with Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Vice President Francia Márquez, and Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva.
According to a press release from the US State Department, these meetings will focus on the “shared priorities of supporting strong democratic governments and respect for human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere.” They will also address “the climate crisis” as well as health and security issues.
On the other hand, they will discuss the implementation of “a holistic approach to counter narcotics trafficking and address its impacts” and US collaboration with Colombia to implement “more fully” the peace agreement signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Additionally, they will discuss regional efforts to address new migration trends. In that same matter, according to the press release, Blinken will reiterate US support for the Colombian Temporary Protection Status policy for Venezuelan migrants, which Washington considers “a model for the region.”
Petro and Blinken
In Bogotá, President Gustavo Petro already met Blinken on Monday for a working lunch and later a press conference at Nariño Palace. During the press conference, President Petro announced that both delegations discussed stepping up the interception of narcotics at sea and enhancing intelligence sharing on drug trafficking using a different approach.
— Presidencia Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) October 3, 2022
Petro added that besides drug trafficking, they discussed the issue of how to effectively implement the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian state and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). Specifically by advancing a comprehensive land reform that will help to eradicate illicit crops, connecting the peace agreement with drug trafficking. The Colombian President also reported that they talked about migration and that security in the hemisphere was “the essence” of the meeting. He continued on to say that more concrete topics will be discussed to determine the real inventory of seized drug trafficking assets, which, in his words, have “evaporated” in recent years.
Answering a journalist’s questions, Petro stood firm on his criticism of Colombia’s agreement with Washington on the extradition of drug traffickers. He has proposed that traffickers who comply with government surrender conditions and commit to abandoning the drug trade not be extradited to face charges abroad. On this issue, Blinken responded that the extradition agreement had benefited justice and victims of transnational crime in both countries.
President Petro also criticised Cuba’s continued inclusion on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, declaring it an injustice and decrying the fact that former President Trump’s decision to place Cuba on the list has not been corrected by the Biden administration.
At the beginning of the ceremony, in a joking tone, President Petro referred to Antony Blinken as someone he believes will become a US president in the future. He also mentioned that the working lunch was extended for more than two hours.
Later, Blinken will travel to Chile, where he will meet with the Chilean president, Gabriel Boric, and the minister for foreign affairs, Antonia Urrejola, on October 5.
There, according to the State Department’s press release, “he will reaffirm US support for democratic governance, bilateral opportunities for trade and investment, regional security and human rights, regional migration management, and climate change mitigation.”
On October 6, Blinken will continue his regional trip to Lima, Peru, to lead the US delegation at the 52nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS is a US-controlled regional body that, according to many experts, has lost credibility due to its blind submission to White House priorities.
In Peru, Blinken will meet with President Pedro Castillo and the minister for foreign affairs, César Landa. The press release indicates that they will speak about “increasing regional security, strengthening democratic governance, protecting the environment, and promoting inclusive economic development.”
(Actualidad RT) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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