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November 8, 2021 10:30 am

Colombian President Iván Duque Kicks Off State Visit to Israel

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Colombian President Ivan Duque delivers his inaugural address. Photo: Reuters/Fabian Ortiz. – Israeli President Isaac Herzog welcomed President of Colombia Iván Duque to Israel on Monday with an official ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Duque and Herzog reviewed an Israeli Navy honor guard before sitting down for a working meeting, according to an official statement. The two leaders discussed opportunities for bilateral collaboration on environmental technologies, green energy and sustainability.

Duque is being accompanied on his state visit by a delegation of senior Colombian cabinet members, including the ministers of defense, agriculture, health, commerce, industry and tourism and environment.

At a press conference after the meeting, Herzog praised the free-trade agreement between the two countries, which he said “marked a welcome high-point” in bilateral relations, and also thanked the Colombian leader for his country’s support in international forums.

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Herzog also welcomed the inauguration of the Colombian trade and innovation office in Jerusalem, noting that it was “the first of its kind outside Colombia.”

“I must say that I greatly appreciate your stand in international organizations, standing by Israel’s side in the whole international arena. This is the measure of true friendship,” said Herzog.

The Israeli leader noted that Colombia had recently joined the IAEA Board of Governors, and expressed the hope that the position would allow it to “advance a meaningful diplomatic battle” against Iran’s nuclear program.

Finally, Herzog addressed the shared terrorist threat posed by the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah.

“Like Israel, I know that Colombia is concerned about Iran and Hezbollah’s terror cells being established on your border with Venezuela. From many years of experience, it is clear that these forces must be stopped swiftly—if not a minute sooner,” he said.

President Duque agreed with Herzog that the free-trade agreement represented a high point in bilateral relations, adding that Colombia sought to triple its exports over the next few years.

“We want to boost connectivity, artificial intelligence, internet of things, agricultural technology and attract more Israeli technology in our country,” he said.

Herzog is scheduled to host a state dinner on Monday in Duque’s honor.

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