Former President of Colombia, Ernesto Samper, says he was able to
“open a door” to improve relations with Venezuela, that froze
diplomatic ties and threatens to suspend trade amid a row over U.S.
military presence in Colombia.
Samper met Chavez Thursday to discuss the possibility of mediation between the leftist Chavez and the right-wing administration of President Alvaro Uribe.
Even though Chavez rejected any mediation as long as Colombia sticks to the plan of allowing the U.S. to expand its military presence in the South American country to conduct counternarcotics operations in the region, Samper did see light at the end of the diplomatic tunnel.
According to the former President, Chavez agreed to talk to local authorities from the border region where a possible trade stop would devestate the economy.
Chavez confirmed he will be receiving a Colombian delegation. “They tell me that this Friday a group of Colombians and journalists want to come and interview me. Let them come!” Chavez said.
“I told Samper I am able to change my agenda and spend three days talking to those who want to come,” the Venezuelan Head of State added.
Samper is the first Colombian to talk to the Venezuelan President after Chavez cut ties with Venezuela’s western neighbor. Venezuela fiercely rejects an expansion of U.S. military in Colombia and is angry about Colombian accusations the Venezuelan Armed Forces supplied rocket launchers to the FARC, Colombia’s largest insurgency group. Chavez denies these allegations.