Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño is set to meet his Colombian counterpart, Maria Angela Holguin, in the Colombian border town of Ipiales on August 27 to discuss border issues and cooperation, reports EFE.
Patiño announced that Ecuador had accepted Colombia’s invitation for the meeting, but said that the talks would not address “sensitive issues” relating to the severance of diplomatic ties following the Colombian cross-border raid which killed FARC leader Raul Reyes in March 2008.
On the agenda for the meeting is the Tufiño-Chiles-Cerro Negro geothermal energy project, which is in development along the Ecuador-Colombia border.
A possible extension of the Rumichaca Bridge, which is the main thoroughfare between the two countries, will also be discussed, along with regional development and health issues. Patiño said that the aim was to promote “a social development zone at the border.”
The issue of Colombian refugees in Ecuador will also be on the table.
Although the restoration of ties will not be officially discussed, Patiño has welcomed progress in the thawing of relations between the Andean neighbors.
New Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, and was assured that he was free to travel to Ecuador without fear of being arrested for his alleged role in the 2008 cross-border raid, which took place when he was defense minister.
Prior to Santos’ inauguration, Correa said that the rebuilding of ties would be achieved “without forgetting the past.”
Efforts to restore relations began in 2009 and trade ties have been strengthened, but the countries are yet to name their respective ambassadors to completely formalize relations.
Ecuador has refused to fully restore ties until Colombia hands over evidence it allegedly found on the computers of FARC leader “Raul Reyes,” who was killed in the 2008 raid.
Colombia claimed that data found on the computer links Ecuadorean officials with the FARC. However, during a recent court hearing, a Colombian police investigator admitted to manipulating evidence in Reyes’ files, which may jeopardise the political will to restore ties.