SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you all for being with us this morning. It’s my great honor to welcome my friend Foreign Minister Trujillo back to Washington for the U.S.-Colombia High Level Dialogue. It’s the fourth meeting that you and I have had this year.
This regular dialogue shows that the United States values our friendship with Colombia – a relationship rooted in a shared set of values, a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.
President Duque’s administration deserves great credit for this close partnership. Just two decades ago, Colombia was gripped by violence and corruption. No more. We’ve been proud to support your efforts to reclaim and rebuild your nation, Mr. Foreign Minister, and we thank you for your great partnership.
Today our teams will talk about a number of topics, and we will build on those solid foundations for the good of your country, the United States, and, indeed, the broader region.
We’ll certainly address narcotics. The United States has a significant stake in the outcome of Colombia’s crackdown on the production of and trafficking of narcotics. That’s why we join President Duque in setting an ambitious goal to reduce coca cultivation and cocaine by half by the end of 2023.
We’ve seen signs of progress. We just had the chance to chat about that. Last year, coca cultivation decreased for the first time since 2012. More than 86,000 hectares of coca were eradicated – 20 percent more than we had set as our joint goal.
Much more work needs to be done. Today we’ll discuss how to expand our counternarcotics efforts to achieve and sustain the ambitious five-year goal that we set.
We’ll also address Colombia’s valiant humanitarian efforts to support the now 1.6 million people who have fled Venezuela and come to Colombia.
To date, the United States has provided more than $250 million to aid Colombia in its response to the Venezuelan crisis, and our support is ongoing and continuing.
Just this past month, at the U.N. General Assembly, I announced nearly $119 million in new funding to support relief efforts throughout the region.
And since 2018, we have twice deployed the U.S. Navy Ship Comfort on medical missions to the region, stopping each time in Colombia.
As I’ve shared with the foreign minister today, we stand ready to do even more to support Colombia’s heroic efforts to save lives and stabilize the region.
And then finally, we’ll talk about an important topic: how we strengthen our economic ties between the two countries. There’s real good progress already underway.
Colombia’s per capita GDP has doubled since 2000, and poverty has declined from one in five to one in 25.
That’s been a lot of hard work by Colombia and its people, but the United States has helped as well. We’re Colombia’s largest trade and investment partner, and our trade supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in each of our two countries.
I know we can do more, and I look forward to the continued discussions throughout the day amongst our teams to deliver on this commitment.
When I last visited Latin America in April, I explained the Trump administration’s ultimate goal in the region, which is to cement a future of democracy, peace, and prosperity.
As I said then, it’s not an impossible dream. Nor it is a foregone conclusion. We will all have to work on this together.
Colombia is proof – is proof that the dream is indeed possible and that hard work pays off. And today, that work continues.
Foreign Minister Trujillo, thank you and your delegation for being here. I invite you now to make a statement.
FOREIGN MINISTER TRUJILLO: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Good morning, everyone. As Colombia’s minister of foreign affairs, it is an honor for – to meet you all today as we open the eighth meeting of the U.S.-Colombia High Level Dialogue. On behalf of the entire Colombian delegation, thank you, Secretary Pompeo, for the warm welcome and your hospitality here at the Department of State.
Today I am joined by a delegation of Colombian Government officials who will have leaded three areas of our high-level dialogue with the United States: security, economic prosperity, and democratic governance. Dating back to its beginnings in 2010, the high-level mechanism has sought to strengthen the U.S.-Colombia strategic partnership and diversify our bilateral agenda, working together toward our mutual prosperity. Since then, Mr. Secretary, multiple projects have come to fruition and benefitted both Americans and Colombians. Our accomplishments through the high-level dialogue include U.S. support for the Colombia’s admission to the OECD, improved cooperation in humanitarian de-mining, Colombia gaining access to the Global Entry program and increased educational exchanges, just to name a few.
We are committed to continuing down this path and setting out measurable, high-impact commitments. Ahead of this year’s session, I would like to briefly address three key issues that are at the top of our agenda and which demonstrate the efficacy of the high-level dialogue: the Venezuelan crisis, achieving prosperity and equality, and the fight against drugs.
The Venezuelan crisis: We will continue to work through all political and diplomatic means jointly with the countries of the Lima Group, jointly with the United States, jointly with the Organization of American States, and other democracies across the world, to create a condition that will lead to positive change in Venezuela. We will implement required sanctions to keep isolating the Maduro regime. Colombia is deeply grateful for the continued U.S. support to assist more than 1.4 million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia.
Achieving prosperity and equality: We are working to further boost economic trade and trade relations between the United States and Colombia. One example of this partnership occurred last May, when President Ivan Duque and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry signed an agreement for both countries to advance renewable and nonconventional energy sources, diversify our energy matrix, and make Colombia more attractive to investment in energy projects.
The fight against the global drug problem: The Colombian Government is committed more than ever to reducing areas cultivated with coca crops by 50 percent in two – in 2023. So far this year we have achieved more than 75 percent of the annual goal of eradicating 80,000 hectares of illicit crops.
Despite challenges in our hemisphere and across the globe, Colombia and the United States stand together in promoting common interests and values such as liberty, democracy, and the rule of law. These mutual values will continue to guide our actions in delivering prosperity for our peoples. Our delegation looks forward to this year’s session and deepening our political and commercial relations through close dialogue with the United States. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.