Biden to Designate Colombia as ‘Major Non-NATO Ally’

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. plans to designate Colombia as a major non-NATO ally, granting the Latin American country special ties with the military alliance amid the escalating Ukraine conflict.

Biden met Colombian President Ivan Duque in the White House on Thursday to discuss bilateral ties and Colombia’s role in the global effort to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.

“Colombia is the linchpin” to both hemispheres, Biden told Duque.

Major non-NATO ally status gives Colombia the military and economic privileges of a NATO member, although it does not entail the same security commitments. Colombia is a strategic U.S. ally in the South American region.

The designation “is a recognition of the unique and close relationship between our countries,” Biden told reporters.

Biden and Duque’s meeting followed after senior U.S. officials secretly traveled to Venezuela, a net oil producer, as Washington weighs a ban on Russian oil imports. The move had raised eyebrows in Colombia, which has tensions with Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro.

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