Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met Colombian Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez Gomez at the Pentagon today.
Austin said he looks forward to continuing discussions that include:
- Strengthening the two nation's defense relationship
- Regional and international security cooperation
- Humanitarian impacts related to regional migration
- Climate change and environmental degradation
Austin said discussions also will include how Colombia is improving rural development insecurity and Colombia's peace implementation efforts.
The secretary said he was glad that yesterday Velasquez met with Daniel P. Erikson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere for an executive framing meeting for the 18th U.S.-Colombia Defense Bilateral Working Group, which will be held next year.
"This annual dialogue lays the groundwork for us to discuss how we can work even more closely together to make our neighborhood safer and more prosperous," Austin said.
The secretary also commended Colombia's efforts to address the impact of migration on regional stability.
"You've seen the suffering of people forced to leave their homes in search of a better life and I applaud your government's commitment to protecting these migrants," he said.
"We share a steadfast commitment to democracy and the rule of law and human rights," Austin said, calling Colombia a major non-NATO ally of the United States and a global partner promoting security in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.
Velasquez said Colombia is committed to democracy and to its security relationship with the United States.
The minister also said he looks forward to discussions with Austin mentioned.
"It will be important to work with the United States on our very firm goal of building what we call in our country total peace for our people. At its center is our ability to improve living conditions for our people and to create an environment in which people can live at peace and coexist," he said.