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Colombia, Venezuela agree to normalize relations

Colombia and Venezuela have agreed to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed over a month-long border dispute between the two South American countries.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro met in the Ecuadoran capital, Quito, on Monday, to discuss Caracas’ decision to close parts of the frontier with Colombia after an attack against Venezuelan soldiers in the border area, which is rife with guerrilla and smuggling activities.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and his Uruguayan counterpart Tabare Vazquez were also present at the meeting.

After the five-hour meeting, Correa said in a joint statement that Santos and Maduro had authorized the “immediate return of their respective ambassadors.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (L) and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa greet the crowd from a balcony of the presidential palace in Quito, September 21, 2015. (Photo by AFP)


Investigating the source of conflict

The two sides also agreed to make efforts to gradually normalize the situation on their common border, without announcing an immediate reopening of border checkpoints, according to the statement.

The Monday statement also said that the Venezuelan and Colombian leaders agreed to conduct an “investigation of the situation on the border.”

Bogota and Caracas have been in a spiraling row since last month, when Maduro ordered the closure of parts of the 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) border with Colombia, and declared a 60-day state of emergency there. Caracas also began deporting Colombian migrants.

Colombians carry their belongings as they arrive in Cucuta, Colombia, from Venezuela, August 28, 2015. (Photo by AFP)


The decisions were made after unidentified assailants attacked the Venezuelan soldiers who were performing an anti-smuggling operation in the city of San Antonio in Tachira State on August 19, leaving four people injured. Maduro blamed the incident on Colombian paramilitaries.

Ambassadors from the two Latin American states were recalled following the border dispute, which also resulted in the deportation of some 1,500 Colombian nationals from Venezuela.


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