Netanyahu, received warmly in Bogota on the second leg of his Latin American trip, enhanced ties with Colombia, signed bilateral agreements and offered to help the country remove landmines.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Bogota on Wednesday for the second leg of his trip as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America. He said that he sees “enormous progress” in Colombia, adding that it “merely sets the stage for what will happen in the next 30 years.”
Netanyahu and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos are pledging to strengthen ties in areas such as science and tourism as Colombia transitions into a post-conflict era. Among the topics discussed were deepening bilateral cooperation in agricultural and water technologies, innovation and cyber defense. Netanyahu and Santos agreed a Colombian cyber delegation would visit Israel for advanced training.
Two bilateral agreements were signed: a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on science and a tourism agreement.
The MOU was signed between the Science, Technology and Space Ministry and its Colombian counterpart. Its goal is to promote joint scientific research. The MOU is pursuant to a 1962 framework agreement and will advance the exchange of knowledge as well as promote initiatives and entrepreneurs in the field of innovation. To this end, it provides for seminars, conferences and other events. The MOU will be implemented upon signing.
The goal of the signed bilateral framework agreement on tourism is to advance tourism, especially organized tourism, between the two countries. The sides will promote cooperation between various tourism organizations and aspire to develop cooperation in rural tourism, digital tourism and visits to national heritage and religious sites. They will focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation at the World Tourism Organization.
Netanyahu expressed Israel’s support for Colombia’s accession to the 35-member intergovernmental Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Israel is a Pacific Alliance observer state. The Pacific Alliance member states are Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, which combined constitute the eighth largest economy in the world. Israel intends to deepen economic cooperation with this major market.
Santos Acknowledges ‘Very Humanitarian’ Israeli Aid
Colombia is in the process of rebuilding after five decades of war between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Marxist-Leninist terror organization.
On his Facebook page, Netanyahu commented on the “warm reception” he and his wife Sara received in Bogota. “We are strengthening the relations between our two countries,” he stated.
Colombia and Israel have long enjoyed a close military alliance though the relationship has also had its moments of tension. Santos called Israel a “friend and an ally” in Colombia’s historic peace process with the nation’s largest rebel group.
“You have offered help to us in several areas, including, for example, something that is very humanitarian, which is the removal of anti-personnel mines,” Santos told the Israeli leader, Times of Israel reported.
Netanyahu traveled from Argentina and is flying on to Mexico.
By: United with Israel Staff
With files from AP and Israel’s Government Press Office