US, Colombia agree to focus on counter-narcotics cooperation
US State Department said Friday that the United States and Colombia had held a bilateral high-level dialogue in the South American nation, reaching agreements of cooperation with the focus on counter-narcotics campaign, Xinhua reports.
Colombian Foreign and Defense Ministers, Maria Angela Holguin and Luis Carlos Villegas Echeverri, hosted the one-day dialogue in Bogota. The US delegation was led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon and Deputy National Security Advisor Ricky Waddell.
Among the major outcomes from the dialogue, the two nations pledged to expand counter-narcotics cooperation over the next five years, so as to achieve a sustained reduction in illegal narcotics trafficking.
This effort included the implementation of a whole-of-government counter-narcotics strategy that aimed to reduce Colombia's estimated cocaine production and coca cultivation to 50 percent of current levels by 2023.
The two nations also issued commitments to implement a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the commercial growth of the cacao sector and other legal economies in Colombia.
The two sided signed the Memorandum of Understanding to combat illegal gold mining that damages the environment, harms human health and funds transnational criminal organizations.
Washington and Columbia were also committed to humanitarian demining efforts in conflict-affected regions to support civilian and military deminers, the national mine action authority, mine risk education and victims' assistance projects, as well as the monitoring and verification program to ensure land is cleared to international and national standards.
In the dialogue, interagency experts from both countries discussed a range of issues, including energy, social and economic opportunities, environmental protection and education.
The meeting helped reinforce the "bilateral commitment to increase stability and prosperity" of both countries, according to a State Department statement.