Theresa May will pledge to help Colombia achieve peace and prosperity as the country’s President continues his state visit to the UK with talks at 10 Downing Street.
The Prime Minister and President Juan Manuel Santos will announce a series of trade and business deals, and discuss the bitter internal strife that has blighted Colombia for decades.
Mrs May will say: “A peaceful, prosperous Colombia is in both our interests, and I look forward to working with President Santos to forge an even stronger partnership in the years ahead.”
At a state banquet at Buckingham Palace ahead of the Downing Street talks, the Queen spoke of how Northern Ireland had been transformed as she praised the President for leading his country along a similar path to peace.
The Queen told the President: “This week you will visit Northern Ireland, which now has one of the largest financial services markets in the United Kingdom outside London.
“Over recent years, I have seen at close hand the transformation of a people held back for so many years by conflict and now, through peace, beginning to realise their full potential.”
The Queen paid tribute to President Santos who has helped broker a historic deal with left-wing Farc rebels in his country, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.
The economic deals to be announced in Downing Street will include:
:: A new partnership in the oil and gas sector to help strengthen ties between the UK and Colombia
:: £1bn in UK export finance to encourage investment in healthcare and energy projects
:: A landmark tax agreement to provide greater certainty for businesses and employees in both countries.
The PM will say: “Colombia is one of Britain’s most important partners in Latin America, and this visit provides an opportunity to strengthen the ties that have existed between our countries for more than 200 years.
“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, I am determined that Britain should become the global champion of free trade, and that means boosting trade with fast-growing economies like Colombia.”
As well as the trading relationship between both countries, the Prime Minister and the President are also expected to discuss how the UK can continue to support efforts to secure a lasting peace agreement in Colombia.
Although Colombia’s peace deal was narrowly rejected by its citizens in a recent vote, Mr Santos has extended a ceasefire with the country’s largest rebel movement to allow more time for efforts to save the peace deal.
More than 220,000 people – mostly civilians – were killed during the 52-year conflict, and more than eight million were driven from their homes.