UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has arrived in Colombia to highlight the UK’s support for the country’s peace process and fight against narcotics during visits to Bogota and Cartagena.
Visiting Colombia for the first time as Foreign Secretary, Mr Hammond is on the first stop of a tour of Latin America that will include Cuba and Mexico.
The UK has been committed to supporting the peace process since official talks began between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) three years ago. This year the UK has contributed £4.2m to a UN fund, and a further £1.1m to an EU fund, to prepare and implement a peace deal.
In Bogota, the Foreign Secretary met President Santos, Minister for Defence and the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. He will visit the National Reintegration Agency to meet with former combatants who have demobilised and re-joined civilian life.
Mr Hammond will also open a new British Council centre in Salitre and attend a Shakespeare-themed classroom event to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.
In Cartagena, Mr Hammond will visit the Colombian Naval Base to see firsthand UK-Colombia cooperation on counter-narcotics.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “The UK is a strong supporter of the Colombian peace process and will continue to back efforts underway to reach a sustainable agreement and lasting peace for the Colombian people.
“Since 2015 we have committed over £9 million to post-conflict projects in Colombia, drawing on our own experience in Northern Ireland. This builds on our diplomatic efforts in the UN Security Council for a UN mission that will verify an eventual ceasefire.
“Our support extends further to areas of shared prosperity and bilateral trade. This year, we will contribute £1 million to Prosperity Fund programmes which promote Colombia’s economic development and £20 million on science and innovation through the Newton Caldas Fund over five years.”