The president of Colombian Congress Armando Benedetti met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas Monday and said that he is pleased with how the normalizing of ties with Venezuela is progressing.
Following a three hour meeting with Chavez, Benedetti left the presidential palace of Miraflores and told assembled press that “trust is being generated.”
During a brief press conference along with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the president of the Venezuelan Congress Cilia Flores, Benedetti said he had been received in Caracas with “affection.”
Benedetti added that while things were progressing “very well” but said that “there will be difficult moments because there are a lot of people, here and there, whom it doesn’t suit that these relations take a good course.”
The Colombian senator declined to answer questions regarding executive decisions, particularly regarding borders issues, but said the important thing was contact between the two nations’ institutions because this “opens channels of communication.”
Maduro said “spaces for dialogue have been opened” with the Venezuelan Congress and government, thanks to Benedetti’s visit. He said they had had “a good conversation evaluating” the steps that need to be taken so that relations can be normalized.
The Venezuelan foreign minister said he hoped that his Colombia counterpart Maria Angela Holguin’s scheduled visit to Caracas on Friday would help to consolidate advances made in bilateral ties.
Prior to his meeting with Chavez, Benedetti met with Maduro to discuss the creation of five bilateral, which will be launched August 20, to address longstanding issues between Colombia and Venezuela.
Benedetti, who arrived in Caracas Saturday, also met with Flores Monday. Both Congress presidents stressed their legislative bodies’ “firm political will” to re-establish ties and develop a stable and productive relationship. They also agreed that Flores will visit Colombia at a yet to be decided date.
The Colombian senator suggested that the meeting take place in the Colombian border city of Cucuta because it would help to “quite a lot to calm down tensions” in the region, which has been one of the worst affected by the diplomatic crisis between the neighboring nations.
Benedetti, who is a member of the Partido de la U and fervent supporter of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, said he hoped that Venezuelan Congress will pass an “organic borders” bill, because this will allow for the creation of “bi-national municipalities” along the border. The bill is before Venezuelan Congress for its second and final time.
Ties between Colombia and Venezuela – who share 2,219 kilometers of common borders and years of tempestuous relations – were severed July 22 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, after the government of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe publicly alleged that Venezuela was harboring ELN and FARC guerrillas. Chavez strongly denied the allegations and said he would not consider re-establishing ties while Uribe remained in power.
Chavez extended to olive branch to Colombia after Santos was sworn in to office on August 7. Relations were restored during a meeting between the nations’ presidents last Tuesday in the Colombian port of Santa Marta.