Herzog calls on Colombian President to crack down on Iran at IAEA

Iran was the top security issue on the agenda of Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez’s meetings with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday.

Colombia was recently admitted to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Herzog expressed his hope that the Latin American country “will advance a significant diplomatic battle against the Iranian nuclear program.”

“Like Israel, I know that Colombia is concerned that Iran and the Hezbollah terrorist cells will establish themselves on its border with Venezuela. From many years of experience, it is clear that these forces must stop quickly, if not a minute sooner, ”Herzog added.

Bennett and Duque discussed their “shared security challenges, with an emphasis on Iran,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.

The prime minister also thanked Duque for Colombia designating Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist entities.

Dr. Shimon Ohayon signs the agreement as Dr. Abdellah Ouzitane (left) and Mr. Abderrahim Beyyoud watch (credit: PELEG LEVY)

Duque plans to inaugurate his country’s first innovation office in Jerusalem, a branch of the Colombian Embassy in Ramat Gan.

Bennett said the new office is “a sign that the relationships between us are stronger than ever.

“Technology and innovation can do extraordinary things, not only for our countries, but for the entire world. We are honored that they have chosen Israel to be the first country in which Colombia opens an innovation office,” he said.

Duque, elected in 2018, was the protégé of former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and adopted his turn toward more pro-Israeli policies, which he continued as an ally of former US President Donald Trump. Colombia’s opening of an office in Jerusalem and the ban on Hezbollah, which joined other Latin American countries, were policies that the Trump administration had advocated for.

Bennett thanked Duque for “leading a strategic change in our relationships, and for [his] honest support for Israel and [his] friendship.”

The prime minister called Duque’s visit to the Western Wall the day before “a very significant gesture for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

“I can tell you with certainty that it will bring you good luck,” Bennett added. “There is a direct line to God there.”

Duque donned a yarmulke and left a note in the crevices of the Western Wall during his visit.

Herzog welcomed Duque to Bet Hanassi with an honor guard from the Israeli Navy, and they held a diplomatic working meeting, discussing opportunities for cooperation in environmental technology.

The president praised the opening of Colombia’s first innovation abroad in the capital of Israel.

Herzog said Israel wants to increase trade with Duque and that the August 2020 free trade agreement between the countries “marked a welcome high point in relations.”

“I hope that trade will increase and flourish for the benefit of both peoples,” Herzog said. “Today our countries are partners in the growth of others: Israeli citizens enjoy Colombian products, while Colombia enjoys Israeli agricultural technologies.”

Duque said he hopes the free trade agreement between Israel and Colombia will attract more trade and investment between the countries.

“We want to triple exports in the coming years. We want to boost connectivity, artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, agricultural technology and attract more Israeli technology to our country, ”he said.

The Colombian president said that his country is “on the way to becoming the Silicon Valley of Latin America”, investing heavily in innovation.

Duque also promoted his country’s green policies, saying that Colombia “is a leader in the energy transition in Latin America, in a country that is the second most biodiverse on the planet, with 30% of the territory about to be declared protected by 2022 . “

Duque’s delegation included five cabinet ministers, among them the Minister of National Defense, Diego Andrés Molano Aponte; The Minister of Health and Social Protection, Dr. Fernando Ruiz Gómez; and Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister María Ximena Lombana Villalba, who plan to meet with their Israeli counterparts. Entrepreneurs and members of the Colombian Jewish community, which has fewer than 10,000 members, were also traveling with Duque.

The president and his wife Michal Herzog plan to host a state dinner honoring Duque at the President’s Residence on Monday night.

After his meetings with Herzog and Bennett on Tuesday, Duque went to Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem.

On Wednesday, he plans to attend events at the Israel Innovation Authority, the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and Start-Up Nation Central in Tel Aviv.


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