Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said Thursday that despite troubled relations with Venezuela, channels of communication with the neighboring socialist nation “have not closed.”
Bermudez said in an interview with El Pais that Colombia’s policy on its relations with Venezuela is to be “firm but careful.”
“We must defend our sovereignty and our interests in order to the defend the interests of all Colombians. We must be careful because we don’t want ‘microphone diplomacy’,” Bermudez stated.
Bermudez said Colombia had responded to threats and aggression from Venezuela through international channels such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States because “what we want is for there to be respect among nations… but the channel of dialogue has not closed.”
The foreign minister added that the Colombian government does not wish to engage in verbal spats or unnecessary provocations.
“I won’t comment on what is going on in Venezuela and much less say that we are hoping for a confrontation because that would be very irresponsible,” Bermudez said.
Colombia-Venezuela diplomatic relations deteriorated after Colombia signed an agreement with the U.S. that allows the Americans to use military bases and civilian airports for counternarcotics and counterterrorism missions.
The controversial accord allows U.S. military personnel access to airbases across Colombia, supposedly with the objective of combatting terrorism and drug trafficking in the country. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez considers it the greatest current threat to Latin America as a whole.
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.