Their Excellencies, the Governor-General the Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, hosted visiting Colombian President, His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos Calderon and members of his delegation at lunch at King’s House, on Friday November 19.
The luncheon formed part of the itinerary for President Santos, who arrived in Jamaica Friday morning for a one day State Visit, at the invitation of Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding. It was the first official visit by President Santos to a Caribbean nation.
Prime Minister Golding headed the list of dignitaries and officials at the luncheon, including: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh; Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; former Prime Ministers – the Most Hon Edward Seaga and the Most Hon P.J. Patterson; Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie; and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Prior to dining, the Governor- General and President Santos held discussions and exchanged gifts, following which the Colombian President signed the Visitors’ Book.
Their Excellencies, Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (centre), and Lady Allen (right), greet President of Colombia, His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, on his arrival at King’s House on Friday (November 19) for a courtesy call and luncheon. Both activities formed part of the itinerary for the visiting President’s one-day state visit to Jamaica.
During the luncheon, the Governor-General, in delivering a toast and brief remarks, parts of which were done in Spanish, noted that Jamaica regards the longstanding relationship between the two countries, as significant.
This historical bond, he contended, forms the foundation underpinning their relations, which are characterized by a commitment to democratic values, human rights and mutual respect. He added that the relationship is also solidly grounded in the common belief that “diversity is a source of strength and cultural enrichment”.
“The strength of our relations lies not only in our historical ties and long legacy of cooperation, but also in our ability and willingness to learn from each other’s experiences and achievements and our desire to work for the common good of humanity,” the Governor-General said.
President Calderon noted that Colombia and Caribbean nations, including Jamaica, share a common culture that “transcends nationalities”. He said the South American nation has always sought to work closely with its Caribbean neighbours, as it is determined to play a more active role in the region.
Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (right) presents President of Colombia, His Excellency, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, with a gift during his courtesy call at King’s House on Friday (November 19). The courtesy call formed part of the itinerary for the visiting President’s one-day state visit to Jamaica. The Governor-General’s Aide-de-camp, Captain Yohann Blake, looks on in the background.
“We share a portion of the sea which, according to studies, has great potential for hydro carbons. We think that, in the not too distant future, our nations will be strategic partners in the management of this maritime territory and that, thanks to the goodness between our two countries, this partnership will be beneficial to both our peoples,” he stated.
Other areas where President Santos said Jamaica and Colombia could deepen their cooperation include education, sports and battling crime.
“We share problems such as organized crime and drugs trafficking, and in the same way that criminal organizations do not recognize borders, we must make the fight against drug traffickers a truly regional initiative. We have great experience in fighting cartels, experiences which we are more than willing to share with Jamaica and other Caribbean nations,” he informed.
President Santos also appealed for greater support to be extended to Haiti to assist the French-speaking Caribbean territory to recover from the range of adversities that have beset it over the last 12 months.
“As neighbours, we need to accelerate the effort to rebuild Haiti, and send a strong message to the international community to bring attention to this humanitarian catastrophe that we are seeing. We cannot let the people of Haiti wait for help to materialize by chance; we cannot let them live in such uncertainty. We must take the initiative and do everything in our power, so that Haitian people have a more promising future,” he said.
President Santos suggested that the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, consider transforming the peacekeeping operations in Haiti into a “development operation”, that responds to the needs of the nation and achieve conclusive results.