U.S. secretary of defense in Colombia to promote relations

14:01, April 16, 2010      

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pledged here on Thursday to deepen trade and security cooperation with Colombia.

Gates, who arrived in Bogota on Thursday morning for a one-day visit, also reaffirmed the Obama administration's support for its "steadiest Latin American ally".

During his meeting with President Alvaro Uribe, Grates hailed Colombia's "remarkable, indeed historic, transformation in the security arena that few would have thought possible."

He called Uribe a "hero" who has achieved great success in cracking down on drug traffickers and leftist guerillas.

He also pledged to continue to work closely with whoever succeeds Uribe, who is leaving office in August after serving two terms.

"I conveyed to President Uribe and (Defense Minister Gabriel Silva) ... our commitment to work just as closely with whomever succeeds them after the upcoming elections," he said.

The United States has channeled more than 6 billion U.S. dollars to Colombia through the Plan Colombia initiative since 2000 to finance the fight against drug trafficking and insurgency.



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