Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak (L) talks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
Handout picture released by the Colombian Presidency showing Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak (L) talking with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a private meeting at Narino presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia. Barak said that military cooperation between the two countries would increase. © Javier Casella - AFP/Colombian Presidency
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak (L) talks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
AFP
Last updated: April 17, 2012

Israel defence minister hails Colombia ties

Colombia is a "true friend of Israel," the Jewish state's defence minister said on Tuesday, adding that military cooperation between the two countries would increase.

During a meeting of more than an hour in Bogota with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Defence Minister Ehud Barak highlighted the joint work "in the fight against terrorism and affirmed that bilateral military cooperation would grow," Barak's office said.

"Colombia is a true friend of Israel, and I will work for an expansion of bilateral cooperation in the fields of technology, industry, agriculture, education and the promotion of excellence," a statement added him as saying.

Barak also thanked Santos for the support his country had given Israel on the international scene and briefed him on the situation in the Middle East.

Barak left on Sunday for a five-day working visit to Colombia and the United States.

He is also to meet Colombia's military chief-of-staff and other senior administration officials.

Last October, Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin paid a visit to the region to try to encourage Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct talks, which broke down just weeks after they began in September 2010.

Holguin, who met both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, was sent to the region by Santos, whose efforts at mediation began earlier that month during a visit by the Palestinian leader.

Abbas had been hoping to secure Colombian backing for a Palestinian bid to secure full state membership at the United Nations.

But Colombia, which is one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, opposes the bid. It backs the position of Israel and the United States that a Palestinian state can emerge only through bilateral negotiations and not through a UN vote.

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