LONDON – Colombian President Juan Manual Santos begins his state visit to the United Kingdom this Tuesday, during which he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and discuss such matters as UK support for peace and cooperation in Colombia after its years of internal conflict.
Santos, the first Colombian president to make a state visit to this country, arrives Monday night in London with his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez de Santos. The couple will stay at Buckingham Palace, residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
Recently honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, the Colombian president will be greeted Tuesday by Prince Charles and his wife, the duchess of Cornwall, who will accompany him to the Horse Guards Parade.
The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, will later give the formal welcome to the Colombian leader at the Royal Pavilion, where the Honor Guard will follow its royal salute with the National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia.
After a number of ceremonial activities on Tuesday, ending with a banquet at Buckingham Palace, Santos will meet Wednesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May in her office and official residence at 10 Downing Street, to discuss matters of bilateral interest.
That day the Colombian president’s schedule also includes a meeting with UK business leaders and a forum at Mansion House about business opportunities in Colombia, which will focus on bilateral trade and investment.
Santos will also visit the Natural History Museum, accompanied by Prince Charles of England, for a meeting about bilateral cooperation on biodiversity issues and scientific research.
To wind up his trip, Santos will fly Thursday to Belfast, Northern Ireland, a place chosen as an example for Colombia on the process of making and keeping the peace.
The Colombian ambassador to London, Nestor Osorio, told EFE that the trip also represents the “consolidation of the excellent relations” between the two countries in matters of cooperation programs “of all kinds,” and of UK support for Colombia in its war on drugs.
Osorio noted “three big areas” to be dealt with during the visit: the “implementation of post-conflict support for Colombia,” a “security strategy of a new dimension” and an “increase in bilateral trade, investment and tourism.”