Minister of State Kent Concludes Successful Visit to Colombia

No. 85 - March 31, 2009 (6:40 p.m. EDT) The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), today concluded a four-day visit to Colombia. Along with his participation at the 50th Annual Board of Governors Meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), he also attended a number of meetings with key Colombian partners and stakeholders.

“Canada and Colombia have a dynamic and fruitful relationship, and we cooperate on a wide range of issues,” said Minister of State Kent.

During the bilateral portion of his visit, Minister of State Kent met with Colombian foreign minister Jaime Bermúdez. “We discussed Canada’s active role in support of peace, security and human rights in Colombia,” said Mr. Kent. “Given the positive relations between our countries and the mature and frank dialogue that we share, we agreed to establish regular human rights consultations to discuss bilateral and multilateral areas of shared interest and cooperation.”

They also discussed regional developments, including next month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition, Minister of State Kent met with members of civil society, labour unions, Canadian businesses and the international community to discuss and exchange perspectives on the current situation in Colombia. He also visited centres providing assistance to landmine victims and demobilized illegal combatants. These centres have received funding through the Canadian International Development Agency and Canada’s Global Peace and Security Fund.

On November 21, 2008, Canada and Colombia signed a free trade agreement along with agreements on labour cooperation and the environment. On March 26, 2009, the Government of Canada introduced legislation in the House of Commons to implement the agreements. Canada is committed to implementing these agreements as soon as possible.

At the IDB meeting in Medellín, the Bank’s Board of Governors announced that Canada would host the 2011 Annual Meeting.

“We will be pleased to welcome the hemisphere to Canada in 2011,” said Minister of State Kent in response to the announcement. “Hosting the IDB’s annual governors meeting will allow Canada to emphasize our commitment to democratic governance, security and economic prosperity in the Americas. This opportunity will demonstrate Canada’s engagement in the Bank and in the region in general.”

Discussions at this year’s meeting focused largely on the current global economic crisis and its impact on IDB members and on the Americas.

For more information on Canada’s partnership with the IDB, please consult: Inter-American Development Bank

For more information on Canada-Colombia bilateral relations, please consult the following websites:

Canada-Colombia Relations

Canada - Colombia Free Trade Agreement

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Eleanor Johnston
Senior Special Assistant (Communications)
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
613-947-8981

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874