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Colombia, US agree on military bases

Colombia and the US have eventually reached a deal allowing America to use its military bases across Colombia amid regional concerns in Latin America.

“This agreement reaffirms the commitment of both parties in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism,” Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The controversial deal allows the US military to operate surveillance aircraft from seven bases across Colombia to track what Washington calls drug-running boats in the Pacific Ocean.

A top US general said Thursday that the United States needed to reassure regional powers about the deal, after reports of negotiations rankled several leaders in the region.

The deal is worth over $40 million for Bogota, along with expanded US military assistance for Bogota’s counternarcotics efforts, according to a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“I think we need to do a better job of explaining to them what we’re doing and making it as transparent as possible, because anybody’s concerns are valid,” General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference this week.

Despite Washington’s efforts to calm the region, tensions have been running high between Colombia and other Latin states, over the US-Colombia military deal which places fully-armed US soldiers with military equipment in South America.

A number of Latin American states, such as Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia have backed Chavez’s bid to halt ‘all’ business transactions with its neighbor.

South American leaders accuse the US of using the war on drugs in Colombia as a pretext to boost its regional military presence.

Brazil criticized the US plan and said that “foreign bases in the region look like relics of the Cold War.”

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