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Colombian Vice-President visits ICRC

28-01-1999 News Release 1823

Geneva (ICRC) - On 28 January Colombian Vice-President Gustavo Bell Lemus, accompanied by Ms  María Fernanda Campo, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Camilo Reyes, the Colombian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, visited the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), where he was received by ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga.

In his welcoming remarks, the ICRC President said he was honoured to receive Vice-President  Bell Lemus and reiterated his sympathy for the victims of the recent earthquake in Colombia. He went on to commend the dialogue that President Andrés Pastrana had initiated with the players in the internal armed conflict with a view to establishing lasting peace in the country. Mr Sommaruga also mentioned the role of the ICRC in armed conflicts, the humanitarian values it defends, and the activities it has been conducting in Colombia since 1969. He concluded by drawing attention to the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, which is to be celebrated this year.

In reply, Vice-President Bell Lemus paid tribute to the ICRC for its valuable humanitarian work and reaffirmed his support for its operations in aid of victims of the conflict which has been affecting his country for more than 40 years. He laid particular stress on the importance of the ICRC's role as a neutral intermediary in facilitating contacts between all the parties involved and in promoting respect for international humanitarian law.

Vice-President Bell Lemus and President Sommaruga had met the previous day at a round-table meeting on prospects for peace and humanitarian aid in Colombia, organized by the Henry  Dun ant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.