Head of Defense Ministry Meets with Colombian President

The Ministry of Defense

Israel and Colombia have displayed warm relations over the years, and last week the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Defense visited Colombia to meet with the country’s top security officials

Date: 25/10/2010, 1:05 PM     Author: Danielle Cohen

On Friday (Oct. 22) the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Shani returned to Israel after his first visit of this kind to Bogota. He was sent to Columbia by Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. During his visit, Maj. Gen. Shani met with the Columbia President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, along with the Colombian Minister of Defense, the top echelons of the Ministry of Defense, and top Colombian military officials including the Chief of Staff, the Air Force Commander and the Naval Commander.

Over the years, Colombia has become one of Israel’s closest friends in the world in general, and in South America in particular. According to top security officials, “Shani’s visit to Colombia was intended to deepen the strategic, security, and industrial relationship between the countries and their security systems, while emphasizing Defense Ministry policies related to security export. The foundations for continued successful cooperation between the countries were laid during this visit.”

The security officials discussed policy on security export and the publicity of this year’s wild competition between Israeli security industries to supply Colombia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Ultimately no Israeli company won the bid. Because of this incident and a number of others, the Ministry of Defense decided to strengthen its supervision over security exports, with the goal of enabling a competitive and free market on one hand, while preventing wild competition between the industries which could harm Israel’s political, security and economic interests.

Colombia is considered the South American country most similar in character to Israel, and over the years warm and friendly relations between the two nations have been built. This is in part due to similar challenges that Colombia faces as a democratic country dealing with an internal armed conflict against FARC and other extremist threats.