Biden hopes for strong US-Colombia ties under Trump

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Bogota, Dec 3 (IANS) Wrapping up his two-day visit to Colombia, US Vice President Joe Biden expressed hope that the bilateral relationship will not be weakened after President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.

“I view Colombia as the keystone, to hemispheric prosperity,” Efe news agency quoted Biden as saying at the inaugural session of a US-Colombia Advisory Council meeting.

Delivering a speech just two days after Colombia’s Congress approved a historic peace accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, Biden said the most difficult part of the peace process — the implementation phase — was just beginning.

Biden said the council’s members can influence the incoming president by defending the need to continue close diplomatic and trade ties.

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On the campaign trail, Trump slammed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) linking the US, Canada and Mexico, as job-destroying and has pledged to put America first in the country’s dealings with other nations.

The United States’ free-trade agreement with Colombia was signed in 2006 under President George W. Bush’s administration and took effect six years later.

This year, Obama also asked the US Congress to approve $450 million in economic assistance for Colombia under a new framework known as “Paz Colombia” (Peace Colombia).

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who also attended the gathering, said the private sector and the United States both had a critical role to play in forging a peaceful and prosperous future.–IANS


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