Ecuador’s Vice Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said Sunday that a meeting between Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos “is on the agenda but there is no set date yet.”
Lucas said that Santos “will always be welcome” in Ecuador, but that the new president still faces trial for his part in the 2008 bombing of a FARC camp on Ecuadorean soil.
The two countries are in the process of repairing ties that were broken in 2008 following the Colombian military incursion into Ecuador in pursuit of FARC guerrillas. Ecuador said the raid, in which FARC leader “Raul Reyes” was killed, undermined national sovereignty. An Ecuadorean court has issued an arrest warrant for Santos, who was Colombian defense minister at the time of the raid. As president, Santos enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Lucas said that the meeting last week between Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin and her Ecuadorean counterpart Ricardo Patiño in the Colombian border town of Ipiales to discuss bilateral issues demonstrates “the political will to achieve determined agreements.”
“The meeting last Thursday was very important because they touched on social issues which we hadn’t been able address before. One, the extension of the Rumichaca bridge, the other the implementation of a geothermic plant for electricity, and the other, the issue of refugees, were monumental for us,” Lucas said.
“Ecuador has looked after Colombian refugees, we have invested, we have worked with ANCUR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees] and Colombia has still not assumed its responsibility. We want them to assume responsibility and we believe there is the political will to do so,” Lucas continued.
The vice foreign minister said that discussing sensitive bilateral concerns is tantamount to the re-establishment of ties and “from now on we are going to address these issues.”
The two countries began to work at repairing relations in the second half of 2009, but Ecuador said it would not fully restore ties until Colombia handed over files found on Raul Reyes’ computer that allegedly contain evidence of collaboration between the Ecuadorean government and the FARC. The government of then-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe refused to hand them over.
Santos ordered the files be given to Ecuador when he assumed the presidency.