07:56 GMT15 June 2021
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The 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 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 top EU diplomat expressed readiness to cooperate further on the issue and offered EU support in diffusing tensions, the statement said.

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 Although the reform bill was later withdrawn, protests continue.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

    Since the beginning of the unrest, over 1,900 people have been injured in clashes with police. A reported 966 of those casualties are said to be police officers. Authorities have confirmed the deaths of 15, while human rights activists suggest that over 50 have been killed in the ongoing protests.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    EU, protests, Josep Borrell, Colombia
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