Colombia heads toward NATO membership

Posted at 06/02/13 9:13 AM

BOGOTA - Colombia's defense ministry later this month will sign a cooperation agreement with NATO, in hopes of joining the international military alliance, President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday.

"In June, NATO will sign an agreement with the Colombian government, with the Defense Ministry, to start a process of rapprochement and cooperation, with an eye toward also joining that organization," Santos said at a military promotion ceremony.

Santos said the army could become an international player if his government can bring off a peace deal as it is trying to do, with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It is Latin America's longest-running insurgency.

"If we can achieve peace, the army will be in a place where it will be able to distinguish itself internationally as well. We are already doing it on many fronts," he said.

The more than four-decade conflict that has left 600,000 people dead and 15,000 missing.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse