Monday, May 29, 2023

Peru, Colombia Inks Accords At First Binational Cabinet Meeting

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and his counterpart Peruvian President Ollanta Humala (R) particpate in high- level bilateral discussions. (Photo: EFE)

COLOMBIA NEWS — The first Peru-Colombia binational cabinet meeting has concluded with the signing of 11 accords between the neighboring South American nations.

Touted as a “momentous and historic” step toward binational integration, the Tuesday gathering opened earlier in the day in the northern Peruvian city of Iquitos, in the presence of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and their ministers.

The key event, taking place at Peru’s naval base facilities located in the rain-forest region of Loreto, convenes authorities of the two countries to discuss about governance, social and development affairs, trade opportunities, security and defense, and border issues.

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This two-nation meeting confirms the excellent relations between the two neighboring countries. Its purpose is to further enlarge the bilateral agenda and boost sectoral cooperation, especially in the common border area.

It should be noted both presidents inked a Joint Declaration during a two-day official visit to Ecuador by President Ollanta Humala on Feb 10-11. In the document, the two leaders confirmed the joint cabinet meetings were going to take place since then.

In June last year, Peru and Colombia signed two other deals aimed at strengthening bilateral ties through increased trade and binational cabinet meetings.

Former Peruvian Foreign Minister Eda Rivas inked, at that time, a Joint Declaration and a Border Development Plan with her then Colombian counterpart Maria Holguin while meeting in Peru’s capital city, Lima.

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In the Declaration, Rivas and Holguin reiterated their commitment to trade cooperation, taking into account that both countries are members of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Pacific Alliance, among others.

The two sides also agreed to hold annual binational cabinet meetings each year, as Peru and Colombia each separately does with Ecuador, to continue to cooperate in improving communities along their shared border.

Humala said the meeting served to “acknowledge the reality of the border communities, which for years have been helping each other, trading with each other and integrating.”

He said that this first Peru-Colombia Binational Cabinet meeting is a historic step for bilateral integration and an opportunity for both countries to reach agreements aimed at improving the quality of life of their peoples.

During the opening ceremony, held at Peru’s naval base facilities located in Iquitos, Humala expressed the meeting was a momentous event and a historic step, since it is the first time in the republican history that an event like this takes place.

“We hope this first step can lead to the next ones and, through them, reach agreements that improve the quality of life of our people (s) I think this meeting is an opportunity for both Colombia and Peru,” he stated.

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The head of the Peruvian state said both sides will explore trade opportunities with two strategic partners in South America, and work together to address defense and security matters, since they share the same threats including, among others, poverty, drug trafficking and illegal mining.

“I hope our nations can reach agreements that can be implemented and that we are able to continue working on projects in the medium and long term,” he added.

The accords, mainly designed to improve the living conditions of those residing along the border, include cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding on housing, education, sports, energy, mining, environmental conservation and disaster management.

According to Humala, bilateral trade is at a peak, with Peruvian exports to Colombia amounting to 837 million U.S. dollars.

In addition to sharing a common border, both countries belong to the Community of Andean Nations and the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.

Previously, Humala extended a warm welcome to the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who was welcomed as a native of this land. Likewise, Colombian ministers were received in the most cordial manner as well.

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