World Bulletin / News Desk
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday signed a group of economic deals as Bogota looks to turn the corner on the longest running conflict in the Western hemisphere.
The leaders appeared at a press conference following a working lunch at 10 Dawning Street, as part of the first-ever state visit by a Colombian president to the U.K.
“Colombia is one of Britain’s most important partners in Latin America, and this visit provides an opportunity to strengthen the ties that have existed between our countries for more than 200 years,” May said.
May said the pair focused on the two countries’ bilateral relationship, Colombia’s peace process and how they can work together to confront shared challenges, according to a government statement.
Searching for new global trade partners and deals for the post-Brexit era, the British leader underlined that she wants “to see even more British companies and investors taking up the opportunities that Colombia offers.
“Today we are supporting those efforts with a new partnership in the oil and gas sector; £1 billion in export finance to encourage investment in rural healthcare and renewable energy projects; and a landmark trade agreement to provide greater certainty for businesses and employees in both countries.
“As the UK’s negotiation process with the European Union unfolds, we stand ready to pursue new opportunities to consolidate our status as trading partners,” Santos added.
His visit comes on the heels of a plebiscite vote that rejected the terms of an historic peace deal aimed at ending 52 years of conflict between the government and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas.
Santos, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in brokering the deal, was formally welcomed Tuesday by Queen Elizabeth II, the U.K.’s head of state.
The president said the Pacific Alliance -- Colombia, Mexico, Chie and Peru -- is a huge opportunity for British business.
The Colombian deal was signed on Sept. 26 after four years of negotiations to end the armed conflict, which killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions more.
Colombians, however, rejected the deal by a margin of about 60,000 votes.
Regarding the peace deal, the British premiere said the United Kingdom would “remain a steadfast supporter of President Santos and the Colombian people as they work to secure a final and lasting peace agreement.”
Santos thanked the U.K. for its support on the peace process.
“Since the beginning of the negotiations with FARC, the United Kingdom has been a strong supporter of the search for peace in Colombia: by sharing its experience of the Northern Ireland peace process, by exercising its leadership in the UN Security Council, or by contributing to the planning for the implementation of post‑conflict strategies.”
Santos will travel Thursday to Belfast to learn about Northern Ireland’s experience in its 1998 peace deal that largely ended decades of violence between Irish nationalists, British armed forces and pro-British unionists.
AFPLast Mod: 03 Kasım 2016, 09:33