Yesterday, Secretary Clinton met with Colombian Foreign Minister Jamie Bermúdez. Secretary Clinton said:"The foreign minister and I...discussed the bilateral defense cooperation agreement that our governments hope to sign in the near future. This agreement ensures that appropriate protections are in place for our service members. It will allow us to continue working together to meet the challenges posed by narco-traffickers, terrorists, and other illegal armed groups in Colombia. These threats are real, and the United States is committed to supporting the Government of Colombia in its efforts to provide security for all of its citizens.
I want to be clear about what this agreement does and does not do. First, the agreement does not create U.S. bases in Colombia. It does provide the United States access to Colombian bases, but command and control, administration, and security will be Colombia’s responsibility, and any U.S. activity will have to be mutually agreed upon in advance. The United States does not have and does not seek bases inside Colombia.
Second, there will be no significant permanent increase in the U.S. military presence in Colombia. The congressionally mandated cap on the number of U.S. service members and contractors will remain and will be respected.
And third, this agreement does not pertain to other countries. This is about the bilateral cooperation between the United States and Colombia regarding security matters within Colombia.
Our hemisphere faces a number of pressing challenges, from the economic crisis to the climate crisis to public health concerns, such as H1N1 virus, to narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime. These all demand our attention and our collaboration. And so the United States and Colombia are committed to working together and to making it possible for us to deliver results for the people of our two countries."