Following a meeting in the Colombian border town of Ipiales on Thursday, Colombia’s and Ecuador’s foreign ministers announced they will hold two meetings in October to address the issues that led to the severing of ties between the Andean nations in 2008.
“In the meeting, a commitment was made to re-establish a more solid, stronger, and more long-term relationship,” Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said.
The Colombian minister also announced that a bilateral commission had been created that will attend to Colombian refugees in Ecuador, of which, according to statistics, there are more than 28,000.
“This commission will include the Social Welfare Ministries of both countries and the first meeting of this group will be held in less than two weeks,” Holguin said. She also confirmed that Colombia will continue to sell electricity to Ecuador.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced that a meeting of the group labelled the “Comission on Sensitive Issues” will be scheduled for some time in October, while a “Neighbor Commission” – which will study bilateral relations – will be held in the last two weeks of October.
“We want to deepen this contact, we should recognize that the reconstruction of our links requires an patient, ongoing, and deep process, in which trust will be the principal sustenance of our political and economic relations,” Patiño said.
Thursday’s meeting in Ipiales is the second official encounter between the two foreign ministers since Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office on August 7.
The same day as his inauguration, Santos received Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa in Bogota.
Ecuador broke ties in March 2008, following the Colombian army bombardment of a FARC camp on Ecuadorean territory, in which guerrilla leader “Raul Reyes” was killed. Ecuador viewed the incursion as undermining its right to sovereignty. Relations soured further after Colombia alleged that files found on Reyes’ computer contained evidence of collaboration between the Ecuadorean government and the FARC.
The two countries began to work at repairing relations in the second half of 2009, but Ecuador said it would not fully restore ties until Colombia handed over Reyes’ files, a request that the government of then Colombian President Alvaro Uribe refused to comply with.
Santos ordered the files be supplied to Ecuador after he assumed the presidency.