“Among others, congratulations on your birthday. It must be very hard to reach 40”. with that joke President Joe Biden He set the tone for this Thursday’s meeting with his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro (who actually turned 63) at the White House.
(Read here: This was what Biden and Petro discussed at their meeting at the White House)
Affable, talking about topics in which there are coincidences, but hinting that there are others in which perhaps not, the US president made it clear that what does exist is the will to get closer.
(See also: Petro proposes a ‘new alliance for progress’ to Joe Biden)
As expected, the US president began by highlighting the “great alliance” that exists between United States and Colombia and the “importance” that your administration places on the bilateral relations.
“I have always thought that Colombia is key on this continent. It is the cornerstone. We share efforts and I believe that if we work together we can create a continent that is united, equal and economically prosperous,” Biden said after emphasizing common issues on the agenda. such as climate change, migration and the fight against drugs.
The US president also thanked Petro the commitment that Colombia continued to show by giving refuge to millions of Venezuelan migrants and “his frank defense of peace and human rights on the continent.”
Among others, congratulations on your birthday. It must be very hard to reach 40
Words that many interpreted as a message in light of the approaches with the Nicolás Maduro regime and the impact it could have on an eventual return to full democracy in Venezuela.
Petro, for his part, thanked Biden for the invitation to the oval office and told him that, from his perspective, the common agenda between the two countries should be marked by “democracy, freedom and peace.” He also placed a lot of emphasis on the need to “decarbonize” the continent and end dependence on gas and oil.
(Also read: Beware, President Biden: Gustavo Petro is an agent of chaos)
A subject in which he found an immediate harmony with Biden. The US president, perhaps in the only tangible event of the meeting at the White House, announced a program to invest up to 500 million dollars in the rescue of the Amazon.
Perhaps alluding to Biden’s “cornerstone”or at least using it as a metaphor, Petro told the US president that he did not see the country as a stone, but as something fluid and changing.
Crossed the official homage – and some other indirect – both leaders withdrew from the oval office to install the work session with the delegations of both countries.
Biden was accompanied by a top-level team headed by his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken; the Secretary for Internal Security, Alejandro Mayorkas; National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan; the presidential adviser for Internal Security Affairs, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; USAID Director Samantha Power; the Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry; the Special Advisor for the Americas, Chris Dodd; the Ambassador in Charge, Francisco Palmieri; the Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, and the National Security Adviser, Juan González.
The president, for his part, was surrounded by the Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva; Defense Minister Iván Velásquez; the Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna; the Chief of Staff, Laura Sarabia; the president of the Senate, Roy Barreras, and the ambassador, Luis Gilberto Murillo.
Although the meeting was scheduled to last an hour, it ended up lasting almost two hours. On leaving the White House, Petro gave a summary of the meeting to the media, from his perspective.
(See also: “Benedetti has no idea what he is talking about”: White House denies the embassy)
He said, for example, that the planet’s climate crisis and how to address it had consumed a lot of time and that Biden had responded very well to his proposal to exchange foreign debt for actions on this front.
Of course, there was also talk of the fight against drugs, an issue that has been on the table of relations between the two countries for decades and that could not be absent. According to Petro, the Biden administration agrees that human beings who have no other alternative life cannot be fumigated and that the emphasis should be on the persecution of drug interdiction narcos.
And in that, the president said, he asked the Democratic president for help.
“We need more boats, more boats, more drones. Until now the results of the interdiction are good compared to those that were had in the same period, in the past government. The ban on supplies has tripled. Let’s say, there is an important advance, I’m not saying it’s complete, but it does hinder the illicit cocaine economy,” said the Colombian president.
Sources consulted by this newspaper maintain that, although the US is willing to consider these aids and changes in approach, they are concerned about the absence of a concrete plan.
I have always thought that Colombia
is key on this continent. It is the cornerstone. I believe that if we work together, we can create a united continent.
The other delicate topic that arose in the discussions was that of Venezuela and the conference that Petro called for next week in Bogotá. According to Petro, what he proposed was to create two rails that would advance in parallel.
“One, the Venezuelan electoral schedule with guarantees, the entry of Venezuela into the Inter-American System of Human Rights, which is the Colombian proposal, and on the other rail, a gradual and progressive deactivation of sanctions (that the US has imposed) of in such a way that we reach a goal, which in the end is that the people decide freely, without sanctions, without pressure, their own social and political destiny”, said the president.
(Keep reading: We’re tackling climate change, strengthening our economies: Biden.)
On Biden’s response to his proposalPetro only said that “a strategy to hold elections first and then lift sanctions or, gradually, to the extent that an electoral agenda is fulfilled, is also lifted in parallel” had been left on the table.
US sources maintain that they are open to the alternative but will proceed with great caution as Maduro has a long history of non-compliance.
And they also made that clear to the Colombian president.
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