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United States and Colombia
are moving to strengthen security cooperation. The U.S. and Colombian
governments reached a provisional agreement on a Defense Cooperation Agreement
or DCA on August 14th. A final review of the agreement is underway in anticipation
of signature by both countries.
The United States and Colombia enjoy a close and strategic bilateral
relationship. The anticipated signing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement will
deepen that relationship. The agreement will facilitate effective bilateral
cooperation on security matters in Colombia, including narcotics production and
trafficking, terrorism, illicit smuggling of all types, and humanitarian and
natural disasters assistance. The agreement is bilateral, and does not pertain
to any other country.
The Defense Cooperation Agreement does not permit the establishment of any
United States base in Colombia, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
has made clear that we do not seek any such base. The agreement does ensure
continued U.S. access to specific agreed Colombian facilities in order to
undertake mutually agreed upon activities within Colombia.
The agreement facilitates U.S. access to three Colombian air force bases,
located at Palanquero, Apiay and Malambo and other Colombian military
facilities as mutually agreed. All these military installations are, and will
remain, under Colombian control. Command and control, administration, and
security will continue to be handled by the Colombian armed forces. All
activities conducted at or from these Colombian bases by the United States will
take place only with the express prior approval of the Colombian government.
The presence of U.S. personnel at these facilities would be on an as needed,
and mutually agreed upon, basis.
The signing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement would not imply an increase in
U.S. personnel in Colombia. In fact, the presence of U.S. military and
associated personnel in Colombia is governed by statute, with Congressionally
established caps on the U.S. presence in Colombia. No more than 800 U.S.
military personnel and 600 civilian contractors may be assigned to Colombia.
That cap has been and will be faithfully respected, and actual presence of such
U.S. personnel has averaged half or less of the authorized number. Consistent
with U.S. policy to nationalize U.S.-supported activities by turning them over
to Colombian authorities, U.S. personnel presence has been in gradual decline.
It is the United States' expectation and commitment that those trends will
The United States looks forward to continued partnership with its friend and