EU’s Borrell Says EU Ready to Support Colombia in Crisis Resolution

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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell held phone talks with Colombian President Ivan Duque to discuss ways to resolve the internal crisis in the country and possibilities for receiving aid from the European Union, the EU external action service reported on Saturday.

According to the document, Borrell expressed EU’s solidarity with Colombia, but stressed the importance of respecting and protecting human rights, including the right to peaceful protest. He urged the Colombian president to find a solution to the current crisis “via dialogue and negotiations, as well as through an inclusive agenda for the youth.”

“High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell held a phone call with the President of Colombia Iván Duque Márquez on Friday evening. They discussed the situation in the country and possible support of the European Union in overcoming the current crisis,” the official statement said.

The EU top diplomat expressed readiness to cooperate further on the issue and offered EU’s support in diffusing the tensions, the statement said.

Colombia has been grappling with an internal crisis caused by massive protests and street violence since late April, with new bout of rallies scheduled for the last week of May. Initially, thousands of people took to streets to protest against a tax reform. Although the reform bill was later withdrawn, the protests continue. Labor and student organizations demand social and healthcare reforms, demilitarization of cities, and dissolution of Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron forces.

Since the beginning of the unrest, more than 1,900 people were injured in clashes between the police and protesters, of which 966 are reportedly security officers. The authorities have confirmed the deaths of 15 people, while human rights activists say more than 50 have been killed in the protests.

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