The Defence Secretary has praised the UK’s relationship with Colombia as further UK personnel prepare to visit the Latin American country.
Michael Fallon welcomed his Colombian counterpart Luis Carlos Villegas Echeverri to the Ministry of Defence today, where they discussed how UK forces provide training and expertise in Colombia.
Around 25 UK personnel have visited in 2016 to help Colombia secure a lasting peace with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The UK has provided training courses and expert advice on peacekeeping as well as defence education and support to the Colombian Ministry of Defence.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Colombia is a key partner in Latin America and it is vital we continue to provide first rate assistance as Colombia works towards a domestic peace deal. By helping our partners to a more stable future, we help to make Britain itself safer and more secure at home.
During the visit Mr Fallon invited Defence Minister Villegas back to the UK in 2017 to hold further discussions on shared areas of interest.
The UK’s Defence relationship with Colombia has been built over several decades of close cooperation on counter-narcotics and shared defence issues.
Royal Navy ships have visited Colombian ports in recent years, including HMS Mersey and HMS Lancaster, and the UK sent a band from the 1 Scots Guard to play at the annual Colombian Independence Day ceremony in July, attended by President Santos.
Today’s meeting was part of a state visit in which President of Colombia Juan Manual Santos met with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and a Royal Salute was fired by the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Green Park and at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company. The Grenadier Guards also paraded for President Santos at Buckingham Palace and he received a Guard of Honour at a state dinner.