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  Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos is arriving in Russia on Sunday
Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos is arriving in Russia on Sunday to discuss political aspects of bilateral relations, and also economic and cultural cooperation with Russian leaders.

Santos who will stay in Russia until June 9 will hold meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Alexy II and other officials to strengthen the climate of trust existing in relations between the two countries, Colombia's ambassador to Moscow Diego Tobon said.

Santos will also meet with Russian businessmen to demonstrate the Andean country's investment potential, the ambassador said.

At the same time, military and defense cooperation will not be top of the agenda during the Colombian vice-president's visit to Moscow, the ambassador said.

"Military cooperation between Russia and Colombia will be discussed only as one out of a range of issues in Russian-Colombian relations," Tobon earlier said.

The Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday that Colombia was seeking to expand military and defense ties with Russia in an apparent attempt to counter the growing military might of neighboring Venezuela.

In the last three years, Venezuela has bought 24 Su-30MK2V fighters, Tor-M1 air defense systems, 31 Mi-type helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles from Russia. It is also planning to conclude several contracts with Russia next month on the purchase of military equipment worth at least $2 billion, including transport planes, submarines and attack helicopters.

"Such interpretation of Russian-Colombian and Colombian-Venezuelan relations offers a distorted picture," the ambassador said. "Colombia never wanted the diplomatic crisis that hit the region in March to grow into an international military confrontation," he went on.

The region was brought to the verge of an armed conflict in early March when U.S.-ally Colombia bombed a FARC rebel camp in Ecuador, killing 24 rebels. Venezuela and Ecuador then sent thousands of troops to the Colombian border, but a peace deal was soon reached.


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