Biden to Tap Colombia As Next Major Non-NATO Ally
The longtime security partner would be the 19th country and third in South America to receive the designation.
Updated: 12:42 p.m. ET.
The Biden administration intends to nominate Colombia as the United States’ third major non-NATO ally in South America, Defense One has learned.
An announcement of the nomination is planned for Thursday, when President Joe Biden meets at the White House with Colombian President Ivan Duque. The news of the intended nomination was confirmed by a defense official.
Colombia’s designation as a major non-NATO ally will come just two months after the Biden administration conferred the same on Qatar in the wake of that country’s extensive help in evacuating Afghans from Kabul.
Colombia will bring the total to 19 countries that get access to increased collaboration on the development of defense technologies; privileged access to the U.S. defense industry; increased joint military exchanges, exercises, and training; special access to military equipment financing; and more.
The other major non-NATO allies are Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Tunisia.
In a press call ahead of Biden’s meeting with Duque, a senior administration official said, “I would note Colombia was the first former Spanish colony recognized by the United States, and the U.S.-Colombia relationship has been one of the closest of the Americas ever since.,” a senior administration official said in a press call ahead of the meeting.
Biden, who has called Colombia a “keystone” of American foreign policy in the region, has a long history with the country, including work on Plan Colombia as a senator and on Peace Colombia as vice president.
Colombia has become an increasingly important security partner to the U.S. in South America to fight the drug trade and strengthen American influence in the region. In 2017, it became NATO’s first South American security partner.
The deepening of ties with Colombia has support on Capitol Hill. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on Wednesday introduced the United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022, which would designate Colombia as a major non-NATO ally to expand cooperation on issues such as growing the economy, fighting corruption, protecting both countries, and combating climate change.
But China is also working to boost its influence in Bogota. Beijing-backed firms have won contracts to work on several Colombian infrastructure projects, including the metro and regional railway in Bogota, efforts to build 4G and 5G infrastructure and the construction of a new gold mine.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Colombia would be the first major U.S. non-NATO ally in South America. It would be the third.