Netanyahu speaks at his annual pre-Rosh Hashana toast .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
BOGOTA — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the Colombian capital Wednesday afternoon for a brief, three-hour visit to discuss ways Israel can help Colombia rebuild after a 50-year war between the government and the Marxist-Leninist FARC terrorist organization.
Colombia, said Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem, "is a country on the rise."
He said Colombia is embarking on post-conflict reconstruction, and that Netanyahu will explore with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos areas where Israel can be of assistance.
Israel has for years maintained a robust security relationship with the Colombian government. Even with the peace agreement there, this relationship is expected to continue as the country faces significant security challenges from neighboring Venezuala.
But with Colombia entering a period of post war reconstruction, Israel is also interested in becoming involved in that process as well.
"There are many projects the (newly formed) Post-Conflict Ministry is trying to promote, and we believe that in a modest way we can also be a part of that journey," Rotem said.
For instance, last year a Colombian delegation came to Israel
for training in land mine clearance, a major challenge for a country coming out of more than half a century of war.
Santos, who has been a strong friend of Israel as prime minister, and before that as defense minister and finance minister, will leave office next next May because of term limits. He has served as prime minister for the last seven years.