Sánchez arrives in Bogotá to convey support to new president Petro

Bogotá, Aug 23 (EFE).- Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived in Bogotá on Tuesday for the first stage of his Latin American tour and is expected to convey to new Colombia leader Gustavo Petro his full support for the president’s leftist policies and attempts to achieve definitive peace in the country.

Sánchez landed at 8 pm (01:00 GMT Wednesday) at El Dorado airport in Bogotá, where Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva was waiting to welcome him.

The official agenda on Wednesday will begin with Sánchez’s participation in a business forum before meeting with Petro at the Casa de Nariño, seat of the Colombian presidency.

Sánchez publicly congratulated both Petro and his running mate, Afro-Colombian social leader Francia Márquez, after their victory in the June 19 runoff, but will now do so in person, and they will address issues of common interest.

According to Spanish sources, they are expected to discuss Spanish and European Union relations with Colombia as well as with Latin America, in which context they will discuss Sánchez’s intention to convene a summit of leaders of the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The summit is to be held in Spain in the second half of 2023, coinciding with the Spanish presidency of the EU, and will be the first of its kind since 2015.

Spain wants to strengthen its role within the EU to bolster relations between Europe and Latin America in the face of the growing influence and presence of China and Russia in the region.

Petro is the first left-wing president of Colombia, and Sánchez will give his support for the social policies that he wants to implement, as well as for other priorities such as the fight against climate change and his aspiration to achieve definitive peace in his country.

Before the resumption of dialogue between the Colombian government and the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army, he will tell Petro that Spain is willing to collaborate in the process in whichever way the parties may request.

In this context, Sánchez will visit the Memory, Peace and Reconciliation Center and receive a copy of the final report of the Truth Commission.

The report, presented in Colombia and also in other cities such as Madrid, aims to reconcile the country and collects figures on the armed conflict that lasted for 60 years, resulting in 50,770 kidnappings, 121,768 disappearances, 450,664 murders and 7.7 million people forcibly displaced.

Another issue that the leaders are expected to discuss is Colombia’s relationship with Venezuela, to which Petro intends to give a new direction than that of his predecessor, Iván Duque.

The economy is also of special importance in this visit, beginning with a business forum that will be closed by the Spanish leader and in which some 850 companies from both countries have registered.

Also participating in this forum will be the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Reyes Maroto and his Colombian counterpart Germán Umaña.

Traveling with Sánchez from Madrid were representatives of a dozen companies with Colombian interests, such as Indra, Sacyr, Navantia, Airbus Spain, Hispasat, OHLA and Red Eléctrica.

There are some 800 Spanish companies present in Colombian territory, with a total investment of 26 billion euros.

Sánchez’s visit to Colombia is his second as prime minister. He will travel to Ecuador on Wednesday night, and will end his tour on Friday in Honduras. EFE


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