The Seattle Times | 8/19/2009 12:00:00 AM
Clinton seeks to reassure on US-Colombia agreement
Aug 19--U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Tuesday to reassure Latin America that a pending agreement to give U.S. forces greater access to Colombian military facilities will not create permanent U.S. bases. The planned expanded American military presence in Colombia has worried both U.S.-friendly nations in the region and members of President Barack Obama's own political party.
Clinton said the agreement, which the countries hope to sign in the "near future," provides the United States with access to Colombian bases to cooperate in fighting terrorists and drug dealers.
"These threats are real, and the United States is committed to supporting the government of Colombia in its efforts to provide security to all its citizens," Clinton said, speaking to reporters with Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez after meetings at the State Department.
But, she said, "The United States does not have and does not seek bases inside Colombia."
Command and control of the bases and security are Colombia's responsibility, she said.
Bermudez, speaking through an interpreter, said Colombia wants to strengthen cooperation with the United States in fighting drug trafficking and terror.
"What Colombia needs is more effective mechanisms of cooperation," he said. "We have suffered, and we have learned from the lessons as a result of this suffering."
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