Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has “greatly improved relations” between the two countries.
Correa warned however that in order to fully restore diplomatic ties, Colombia must hand over information on the March 2008 bombing of a FARC camp in Ecuador, where commander “Raul Reyes” was killed.
Former President Alvaro Uribe agreed to pass on the information to Ecuador, but never fully complied.
In an interview with El Tiempo, Correa praised Santos’ promise to alleviate the Colombian refugee problem in Ecuador.
“We have said that there should be shared responsibility on the issue of over 50,000 Colombian refugees … President Santos has agreed to everything, but it still needs to be translated into concrete deeds,” Correa said.
Correa emphasized Santos commitment “to try to normalize and harmonize relations with neighbors” saying that the Colombian president has “been very determined, very successful, even audacious, and in a short time has improved a lot, notably with Venezuela, which brings joy to the region.”
Regarding Colombian security forces’ recent killing of FARC commander “Mono Jojoy,” Correa said “I will never celebrate anyone’s death.” The Ecuadorean said that Colombia’s conflict cannot be won by military force, although he acknowledged that the government has struck mayor blows against the guerrillas.
“If they choose another way, one peaceful and political … they can always count on our cooperation,” the president said.
Correa repeated his appreciation of Peru and Colombia’s decision to close the border with Ecuador following a police revolt in Ecuador, calling it “an unprecedented and substantial step in building democracy and South American integration.”
Santos has said that he is “optimistic” about restoring ties with Ecuador, and expects them to be fully restored by the end of 2010.