José Manuel Durao, President of the European Commission (Photo: European Union)

European Union (EU) President Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Colombia for the first time next week, according to a statement released by the EU’s delegation in Colombia on Friday. Barroso will meet Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on December 12th, reportedly to discuss political and economic relations between the EU and Colombia and the progression made so far in the ongoing peace talks between the government and the FARC, the country’s oldest rebel group.

“The purpose of this visit is a sign of solidarity by the European Union for Colombia’s search for a peaceful negotiated solution facilitating sustainable peace in the country,” EU Ambassador to Colombia Maria Antonia van Gool was reported as saying in the press release.

“There is a special interest of the EU to strengthen bilateral relations, especially in politics, trade and diplomatic relations.”

After his talk with Santos, Barroso is scheduled to visit “Basta Ya!” in Bogota’s Center of Historic Memory. The EU played a partial role in funding the exhibit, which covers the decades-long armed conflict that has cost an estimated 220,000 lives in Colombia.

MORE: Colombia’s conflict cost 220,000 lives since 1958

During the afternoon, Barroso will reportedly present Colombia with $680,000 in financial aid for an international development project aimed at improving access to education in the country and protecting children affected by armed conflict.

The EU dignitary will end his official visit with a speech at Bogota’s Chamber of Commerce, discussing relations between Europe and Colombia as they pertain to the acting free trade agreement that took effect earlier this year .

MORE: Colombia’s free trade pact with EU comes into force


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