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Colombian Vice-President Highlights His Country’s Aid to Peace-Keeping Missions

By Dialogo
July 21, 2009

Jerusalem, 20 July (EFE).- The vice-president of Colombia, Francisco Santos Calderón, emphasized his country’s international vocation in carrying out peace-keeping missions today, after visiting the Sinai Peninsula to celebrate the Twentieth of July - Colombian Independence Day - with the Colombian contingent stationed in that region. “You feel very proud. The majority of the soldiers who are here have very significant operations in their service records; these are the best people,” the Colombian vice-president told EFE by telephone from southern Israel. Santos Calderón was touring southern Israel this afternoon to become acquainted with various technological projects related to solar energy and farming in arid regions. During the morning he visited the 350 men of Battalion Colombia, part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, responsible for monitoring the fulfillment of the peace accords between Israel and Egypt. The Colombian contingent is the second largest in the Sinai, after the United States, with 700 men, and ahead of Fiji, which has 250. “They’ve spent five, seven, nine years in the jungle, and they come to spend a year here representing Colombia,” explained the vice-president, who celebrated the 199th anniversary of Colombian independence with an official ceremony. This contingent “demonstrates that Colombia is a country that collaborates in peace-building at the international level.” During the official events the vice-president was accompanied by the Colombian ambassadors to Israel, Juan Hurtado Cano, and Egypt, Guillermo Vanegas. Tomorrow in Jerusalem Santos with meet with President Shimon Peres and with the Ministers of Regional Cooperation, Silvan Shalom, and Strategic Affairs, Moshe Yaalon, as well as with the head of the opposition and former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. He will end his trip on Wednesday after visiting several manufacturers to try to give a boost to trade relations between Israel and Colombia.