TOLEMAIDA MILITARY BASE, Colombia – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is praising Colombia's advances in counterterrorism, and says the South American country will provide valuable training and peacekeeping assistance around the globe as its internal conflicts wind down.
Hagel says he spoke with Colombian leaders on Friday about the threat that Islamic State militants pose, but that any decision to participate in that fight would be up to Bogota.
Hagel is on a six-day, three-country trip to South America. He traveled to a military base in the mountains near Bogota to watch a demonstration by special operations forces. He met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon.
Colombia has waged a decades-long battle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, but has made steady progress.