During a May 20 ceremony welcoming the Colombian defense minister to the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said Colombia's recent designation as a major non-NATO ally reflects the depth and breadth of the nations' security relationship and reinforces their defense partnership.
"And it lays the groundwork for us to work together even more closely to make our neighborhoods safer and more prosperous," Austin told Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano.
Molano said Colombia is proud to have been given the designation by President Joe Biden.
"Under this designation, we plan to deepen our ties and explore new cooperation areas, such as defense research and development," he said.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Colombia, and the defense leaders remarked on the important milestone.
Molano said both the U.S. and Colombia continue to share the values of defending democracy and respecting human rights.
He also said his nation will work closely with the U.S. to fight against narcotraffickers, who are a threat to democracy, the environment and the population.
The secretary also thanked Molano for Colombia's condemnation of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and for the country's offer to provide humanitarian support to the Ukrainian people.
Austin said the topics for the talks included:
Looking for ways to strengthen the nations' defense relationship to bolster regional and global security.
Understanding the impact of mass migration on regional stability.
Analyzing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
Discussing Colombian security challenges, as well as the country's efforts to prevent violence when voters go to the polls to elect a new president later this month.
"Our commitment to democracy and the rule of law, the protection of human rights and human dignity must remain steadfast. Mr. Minister, our two countries are bound, not just by geography and common interest but also by shared values," Austin said.