Ecuador’s Vice Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said at a press conference Wednesday that his country hopes to restore relations with neighbor Colombia before the end of the year.
Lucas said that Ecuador had noted Colombia’s increased “political will” to “address the solution of certain problems” that affect their bilateral relations.
The vice foreign minister said the new government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, which took office on August 7, seems more disposed to work at bilateral concerns than that of predecessor President Alvaro Uribe.
“Just the fact that they have handed over the supposed discs from ‘Raul Reyes” supposed computers shows a political intentional and will that the government of Uribe didn’t have,” Lucas said.
Ecuador broke ties with Colombia in March 2008, after the Colombian army carried out a raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorean soil. Ecuador viewed the raid – in which FARC leader “Raul Reyes” was killed and his computers retrieved by Colombia – as undermining its sovereignty.
The two nations have been working at restoring relations since late 2009 but Ecuador had refused to fully repair ties until Colombia handed over Reyes’ files, which, it claimed contained evidence of collusion between the Ecuadorean government and the FARC.
The Uribe administration’s refusal to provide the files became a sticking point in terms of restoring relations. However Santos handed over the controversial information the day of his inauguration.
Lucas said that Santos had demonstrated “complete willingness” to provide Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa with information on the attack. He added that Colombia had also changed its attitude to Colombian refugees fleeing their nation’s internal conflict by sheltering in Ecuador, and was now assuming the necessary responsibility for the refugees.
Following a meeting in the Colombian border town of Ipiales last week, 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.
A meeting between Santos and Correa is also on the agenda, but no dates have been set as yet.