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Department Seal Anne W. Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia
Statement at the Signing of an Agreement for the Obligation of Funds in Support of Plan Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia, September 27, 2000

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As prepared

I am pleased to sign today, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Guillermo Fernández de Soto, the agreement that will begin the process of disbursing U.S. funds in support of Plan Colombia. With this agreement, Colombia will become the third-largest recipient of U.S. assistance in the world. This is one of the most important commitments that the United States has ever undertaken in this Hemisphere.

I returned yesterday from Washington and I would like to say to all Colombians that there is in the United States an enormous feeling of support for your country, enormous interest in your problems, and great respect and admiration for the courage of your leaders, public and private. It is important that as we begin Plan Colombia, we begin concrete projects that will reduce narcotics trafficking and will help Colombian institutions.

I am particularly pleased to sign the first three appendices to the agreement that represent concrete plans for implementing Plan Colombia. Those agreements will be implemented by the United States through the Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID will provide almost $95 million to begin programs to strengthen democracy, alternative development, and humanitarian assistance to displaced persons.

Our commitment for these social projects underscore the support of the United States across the full range of Plan Colombia, a comprehensive, integrated, and thoughtful plan launched by the Government of Colombia.

In the area of strengthening democracy, the U.S. funding made available today continues a partnership that has existed between USAID and various public and private entities in Colombia since 1991. New resources will help reform the justice system, promote respect for human rights, and invigorate municipal government.

In the area of alternative development, these funds will support efforts by the Colombian Government to promote alternatives to illicit crop cultivation, improve rural infrastructure, and better manage natural resources.

In the area of humanitarian assistance, new resources will provide health care, education, housing, and credit services for small business.

Through agreements such as those signed today, the United States reaffirms its partnership with the Colombian Government to achieve the inter-related political, economic, and social objectives of Plan Colombia.

Thank you very much.

[end of document]

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