Colombia and Israel Offer Help in Global Struggle against Drugs and Terrorism

By Dialogo
July 30, 2009

Bogotá, July 28 (EFE).- The foreign ministers of Israel, Avigdor Liberman, and Colombia, Jaime Bermúdez, today offered their countries’ help wherever it is needed around the world in the struggle against drugs and terrorism. Both agreed that these evils are the largest problems facing the international community and that, as such, they should be met with a common effort. “We will openly give help to any country, and obviously to Colombia, that tries to deal with these two problems,” the Israeli minister specified after meeting with his Colombian counterpart in Bogotá, where he began a two-day official visit today. He also indicated that Israel has “no intention of interfering in South America’s problems,” but made it clear that his country “should be more and more active in this continent.” Liberman’s visit to the Colombian capital, where he will also meet with President Álvaro Uribe today, is the last stop on a Latin American tour that began almost a week ago and has taken him to Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. One of the objectives of the tour is to analyze Iran’s growing presence in Latin America, as well as the possible emergence of cells of the Islamist group Hezbollah. According to Israel, one such cell has been set up in the Colombian department of La Guajira, on the country’s northeastern border with Venezuela, where Hezbollah already has a presence, as well as in the border region where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay come together. Nevertheless, Liberman avoided speaking about this subject during the press conference he held today after meeting with his colleague Bermúdez. “Israel has struggled against terrorism for many years,” said Liberman, recalling that his country has had the “bad experience” of two attacks against targets associated with it in South America, both in Buenos Aires: the car bombing of its embassy, which left 29 dead in 1992, and the 1994 dynamite attack on the Jewish mutual-aid society AMIA, which caused 85 fatalities. “We really understand how dangerous any terrorist organization is, and we know how to deal with these problems,” the Israeli foreign minister noted. In this context, his Colombian counterpart emphasized that Bogotá shares Israel’s concerns and terrorism’s effects. “We are two countries who are convinced that the evils of drug trafficking and terrorism have to be entirely eradicated, and every tool that our two countries can share with the world in this struggle is welcome,” Bermúdez affirmed. The Colombian foreign minister observed that his country is not only asking for international cooperation, but also actively offering it, as it does with Afghanistan and Central America. Colombia, Bermúdez said, has learned from Israel’s determination to “endure and overcome” the difficulties that the people of both countries have had to suffer. “We also have a particular comprehension and understanding of the struggle and effort to combat and eradicate terrorism in that country, as in ours, and in every region of the world,” affirmed the Colombian foreign minister, who said that he shared Israel’s determination “to overcome it definitively.” Liberman and Bermúdez signed several agreements today, including one establishing a “bilateral consultation mechanism” that will entail “a permanent framework of dialogue and exchange of views.” They also made progress on negotiating a complementary agreement on tourism, another on cooperation in science, technology, innovation, research, and development, and one more on matters related to agriculture and livestock. On Wednesday the Israeli foreign minister will discuss trade matters and military cooperation, among other issues, with the Colombian Trade Minister, Luis Guillermo Plata, and the Colombian Interim Defense Minister, Gen. Freddy Padilla de León, the commander of the Armed Services.