Politics
Canada, Colombia strengthen defence relationship

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie

JESSICA HUME | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA -- Canada strengthened its military relationship with Colombia by signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the Halifax International Security Forum Saturday.

The agreement was signed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Carlos Pinzon Bueno.

MacKay said Colombia plays an "important role in the hemisphere" and praised the strong relationship the countries share.

"We can also cooperate in areas from humanitarian assistance disaster relief to caring for our personnel and engage in strategic defence policy discussions," he said.

Earlier in the week, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy was in Bogota delivering a speech for the Canada-Colombia Chamber of Commerce.

Canada, Ablonczy announced, had become an observer to the Pacific Alliance - a group of the four strongest Latin American economies - which she said would expose Canada to greater market access there.

Ablonczy is currently leading a trade mission to Peru, Colombia and Panama with 18 Canadian companies and organizations.

In the past three years, Canada and Colombia have signed an agreement on human rights as well as the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which covers labour and environmental cooperation.

The MoU signed Saturday originated in Bogota in February 2012 during the Canada-Colombia Defence Policy Talks.

"This Memorandum represents a natural evolution in our relationship," MacKay said in a press release.

"And we look forward to continuing to build our ties with the Colombian Armed Forces."

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