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Blinken begins rare Latin American tour in Colombia

The displacement of Mr.

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Blinken begins rare Latin American tour in Colombia

The displacement of Mr. Blinken, whose country with its Asian prism and the war in Ukraine is sometimes accused of neglecting its partners in the southern hemisphere, comes the day after the first round of the high-intensity presidential election in Brazil opposing the outgoing head of state Jair Bolsonaro to leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The latter arrived slightly in the lead but a second round on October 30 will be necessary to decide between them.

Mr. Blinken welcomed in a tweet Sunday evening the good conduct of the ballot and said he hoped that "the second round will be held in the same spirit of peace and civic duty".

The tour also kicks off after the announcement on Saturday of a prisoner swap between the United States and Venezuela, which comes amid warming relations between the two countries, even though Washington has never recognized the re-election. in 2018 by Nicolas Maduro.

"We have never had such strong relations with the southern hemisphere," US Undersecretary of State Brian Nichols, in charge of Latin America, assured reporters on Friday, refuting the idea that the United States States have neglected their southern partners.

- Fight against drugs -

"We don't judge countries by where they stand on the political spectrum, but rather by their respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights," he added.

In Bogota on Monday and Tuesday, Antony Blinken, for whom this will be his second trip to Colombia, will meet President Gustavo Petro, who in early August became the first left-wing president in the country's history.

The fight against drug trafficking and its consequences on security, health and the environment, as well as immigration, including the protection granted by Colombia to Venezuelan migrants whom Washington considers a "model for the region", will be among the topics discussed.

Last August, at the time of President Petro's inauguration, US officials said they were ready to hold an "open and honest conversation" on the war on drugs with the new Colombian president, who wants to end it because of of its failure.

Colombia, which has experienced decades of civil war, is the world's largest producer of cocaine, and the United States its main market.

The head of the American diplomacy will then go to Santiago on Wednesday, there also with a meeting planned with the Chilean president of left of 36 years, Gabriel Boric, who took office last March.

- The voice of the OAS -

Finally, the Secretary of State will go to Lima on Thursday and Friday, in particular to take part in the Annual General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The assembly, which brings together the countries of the American continent to the north and south, must adopt several resolutions calling for an end to "Russian aggression in Ukraine" - some Latin American capitals have expressed their reservations - on the abuse of human rights in Nicaragua, a country hated by Washington and which slammed the door of the organization last spring, or on the situation in Haiti.

Mr. Blinken will also have an interview Thursday with the president of the radical left in Peru, Pedro Castillo, targeted since he came to power a little over a year ago by several investigations for corruption and influence peddling.

The State Department said in a statement on Friday that Mr. Blinken would discuss through this trip the themes of democracy, immigration, human rights and the fight against climate change, subjects dear to the president. American Joe Biden.

This is particularly for Washington to set to music the aftermath of the "Summit of the Americas" which was held in Los Angeles in June and during which was launched a partnership on immigration in Latin America.

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