Colombian newspaper El Tiempo confirmed Monday that Colombia’s President-elect Juan Manuel Santos has officially invited the presidents of Ecuador and Venezuela to attend his inauguration on August 7.
According to “reliable sources,” the commission in charge of Santos’ swearing-in ceremony sent invitations to Ecuadorean Rafael Correa and Venezuelan Hugo Chavez last week, reports El Tiempo.
This revelation follows a comment from Correa on Sunday in which he expressed doubt that he would be invited, saying that “if we receive the official invitation” he would “try” to attend.
Archbishop Ruben Salazar told El Tiempo Sunday that Correa’s and Chavez’s presence at Santos’ inauguration would be “the beginning of a path” to “resolve all conflicts” between Colombia and its neighbors.
Correa had previously said that he would attend the inauguration. Santos welcomed the presence of his Ecuadorean counterpart, calling it “a step in the right direction” for relations between the neighboring Andean nations.
Santos also said he was “very pleased” that Chavez had expressed willingness to reopen a dialogue with Colombia and attempt to re-establish severed ties between Venezuela and Colombia. He also said it would be “great news” if Chavez could attend the inauguration.
Colombia has a history of temperamental relations with both Ecuador and Venezuela.
An Ecuadorean court issued a warrant for Santos’ arrest because of the then-Defense Minister Santos’ involvement in the 2008 raid on FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory, which killed 26 people, including guerrilla leader “Raul Reyes.” The incident led Ecuador to break diplomatic relations with Colombia. The two nations are working to repair their fractured relationship.
Correa commented last week that Santos could potentially be arrested in Ecuador due to the pending arrest warrant.
A more recent scandal, over allegations that Colombian intelligence agency DAS conducted illegal surveillance on Correa, as well as other high profile Ecuadoreans, has put further strain on relations between the neighbors.
Chavez has expressed willingness to open a dialogue with the incoming Colombian government. Caracas froze diplomatic ties with Bogota in 2009 after Colombia signed a military agreement which allows U.S. troops access to seven Colombian military bases.