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US, Colombia to expand alliance to reduce coca production by 50 pct. by 2023

USA COLOMBIA (ADDS VIDEO) | 09 de octubre de 2019

Washington, Oct 9 (efe-epa).- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Colombian counterpart, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, are meeting on Wednesday in Washington to discuss how they can "expand" their countries' bilateral cooperation in eradicating coca cultivation to reduce production of the raw material for cocaine by 50 percent by 2023.

In remarks to the press at the State Department, Pompeo said that Washington has seen "signs of progress," such as the reduction of coca plots in 2018 for the first time in six years, but he said that both the US and Colombia should increase their cooperation.

"Much more work needs to be done. Today we'll discuss how to expand our counternarcotics efforts to achieve and sustain the ambitious five-year goal that we set," said Pompeo.

In 2018, the government of former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reached an accord with the US to work together with the aim of reducing estimated cocaine production and coca cultivation by 50 percent by 2023, and current Colombian President Ivan Duque has promised to meet that goal.

"The United States has a significant stake in the outcome of Colombia's crackdown on the production of and trafficking of narcotics. That's why we join President Duque in setting an ambitious goal to reduce coca cultivation and cocaine by half by the end of 2023," said Pompeo.

The two officials spoke to reporters before the 8th High Level Dialogue between their countries in which they are also scheduled to discuss economic measures to increase trade between Colombia and the US, as well as the Venezuelan political crisis.

Holmes Trujillo said that Colombia will continue applying sanctions to "isolate the regime" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

"We will continue to work through all political and diplomatic means jointly with the countries of the Lima Group, jointly with the United States, jointly with the Organization of American States, and other democracies across the world, to create a condition that will lead to positive change in Venezuela," the Colombian official said.

Colombia and the US both back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as the country's interim president by more than 50 nations around the world.

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