Biden will designate Colombia as a major non NATO ally to strengthen bilateral ties

This designation would allow Colombia to access military and economic programs, but it does not provide security guarantees as NATO members.

Biden will designate Colombia as a major non NATO ally to strengthen bilateral ties

President Joe Biden declared Thursday that the U.S. plans to designate Colombia as a major non NATO ally, in a move that will increase military and economic ties.

After a meeting at the White House with Colombian President Ivan Duque, the announcement was made.

Biden stated to reporters that this was a recognition of the close and unique relationship between our two countries.

The status gives Colombia special access to economic and military programs, but also provides security guarantees similar to those offered to NATO members.

The White House announced that Qatar was given the same designation on Thursday.

There are more than 12 countries that are important non-NATO allies. These include Argentina, Brazil, Israel and Kuwait.

Biden and Duque meet as the U.S. seeks to strengthen its international ties after Russia's invasion in Ukraine.

Colombia is both a strategic ally of the United States in the region as well as a strong opponent to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. Duque also expressed concern about talks between Maduro and the Biden administration after high-ranking U.S. officials secretly went to Venezuela this weekend for talks. This was the first visit by a White House official to Venezuela since over 20 years. It also came at a time when the Biden administration was considering a ban on Russian oil imports.

Talks included discussions about U.S. citizens held in Venezuela and possible relief from oil sanctions.

In a gesture of goodwill, the Venezuelan government freed two Americans from jail after the weekend meeting. Senior officials in the Biden administration said that there was never an offer to exchange oil with the Americans being held.

Russia has close ties to Venezuela. Millions of Venezuelans fled Venezuela because of the political and economic turmoil that Maduro has created. Over 1.8 million Venezuelans now live in Colombia. Duque granted temporary protected status to Venezuelans in 2012, allowing them legal work and access to healthcare.

In the early 2000s, the U.S. provided more than 10 billion USD in aid to South America through a program called Plan Colombia. This program was designed to combat the drug trade. Colombia is still the largest producer of cocaine in the world.

In polarized Colombia, congressional elections and presidential primaries are scheduled for Sunday. According to polls, Gustavo Petro is the leading leftist presidential candidate ahead of the May 29 general elections. Inflation has increased and poverty in Colombia has risen since the coronavirus pandemic.

Duque's term is limited to four more years in office.


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