U.S. May Cut Its Anti-drug Aid To Colombia: Official

The United States' government has informed Colombia of possible cuts in anti-drug aid and said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was still considered a major drug-trafficking organisation and an international terrorist group.

Those remarks by US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement William Brownfield were published Wednesday by Colombian daily El Tiempo.

Brownfield met Tuesday with Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas and is scheduled to meet Wednesday with the Andean nation's head of state, Juan Manuel Santos, at the presidential palace in Bogota.

The US ambassador to Colombia from 2007 to 2010 said the White House's first 2018 budget proposal calls for sharp cuts to foreign aid programs, including a 37 percent reduction in funding for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development.

That figure - $34.6 billion - could be changed via a direct request from the secretary of state to the president or when the US Congress votes on the budget, Brownfield added.

The US has provided Bogota with some $10 billion in mainly military aid since 2000 under Plan Colombia, an initiative aimed at combating Colombian drug cartels and left-wing insurgent groups.

Asked whether the FARC would remain on the US State Department's list of foreign terrorist organisations even after the guerrillas signed a peace accord with the government last year and early this month began the process of surrendering their weapons, Brownfield said that designation had not been lifted.

BERNAMA-NNN-EFE

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