Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday that there is no “conflict” between his nation and Colombia but only “difficulties.” The socialist leader said that he welcomed help from neighbor nations when “tensions are heightened.”
Chavez made these comments to press assembled in Montevideo, Uruguay, where Latin American leaders, including Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, were attending the inauguration of Uruguayan President Jose Mujica.
Chavez was responding to the newly sworn-in president Mujica’s call for “mediation” between the feuding Andean nations.
The socialist leader said he considered Colombia and Venezuela to share “a great brotherhood” because they are “siamese twins of the same sword and the same flag.”
“Colombia and Venezuela must toil to overcome our differences,” Chavez said, reiterating his desire for his nation to normalize relations with Colombia.
Following a shouting match with Uribe at a summit in Mexico last week, Chavez said he wanted Venezuela to normalize relations with Colombia and invited his Colombian counterpart Uribe to “sit down and talk like gentlemen.”
Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez accepted Venezuela’s invitation to sit down and talk about improving relations.
However accusations by a Spanish judge of Venezuela-FARC ties, combined with a history of strained relations between Venezuela and presidential election front-runner candidate Juan Manuel Santos, means the future of diplomatic relations between the two nations is uncertain.
Diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela were frozen after Colombia signed an agreement last year with the U.S. that allows the Americans to use Colombian military bases and civilian airports for counternarcotics and counterterrorism missions.
Chavez believes the agreement undermines sovereignty in the region, and is its most outspoken opponent.
The border region has long been a source of tension between the countries, as Venezuela accuses Colombia of allowing right-wing paramilitary fighters to enter Venezuelan territory, while Colombia says the border is often crossed by left-wing guerrillas seeking refuge in the neighboring country.