Venezuela, Colombia agree to resume relationsAugust 11th, 2010 - 9:53 am ICT by IANS
Bogota, Aug 11 (DPA) Colombia and Venezuela restored diplomatic relations Tuesday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced after meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez.
The leaders symbolically met in the Colombian Caribbean town of Santa Marta, at the residence where Simon Bolivar, the hero of both countries’ independence, died Dec 17, 1830.
Upon his arrival in Santa Marta, Santos, who was inaugurated Saturday, had said he felt “optimism” about the meeting, although he did not want “to generate too many expectations.”
Chavez said before the meeting that he had the will to “rebuild what was destroyed.” He presented Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin with some red carnations, and broke protocol by getting out of his car to greet residents of a humble neighbourhood who were cheering for him.
According to Colombian government sources, Santos and Chavez were to talk privately first, and then meet with Holguin and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.
They were also set to be joined by former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner, who has played a major role in brokering an agreement as secretary general of the Union of South American Nations(Unasur).
Tension was rife between Chavez and Santos’ predecessor and mentor Alvaro Uribe.
Santos said in his inaugural speech that his foreign policy priority was to rebuild relations with Ecuador and Venezuela.
Chavez had ordered a diplomatic “freeze” a year ago after Bogota announced it would allow the US military to use seven Colombian Army bases. He broke off relations completely July 22, when Uribe accused Venezuela at the Organisation of American States of harbouring 1,500 Colombian guerrillas.
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