Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said that his country is available to do whatever is asked of them as they accompany Colombia in peace negotiations between the government and largest guerrilla group FARC, reported La W Radio Wednesday.
“We will be attentive to what is asked of us, because we have no initiative here,” said Chavez in a press conference after Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that formal dialogues would take place in October in the Norwegian capital Oslo and continue afterwards to Cuba’s capital Havana. Santos also announced that Venezuela would participate as a companion country along with Chile, while Cuba and Norway would serve as the principal guarantors.
“We will only act in accordance with what the Colombian governments asks of us,” said Chavez, adding that if the FARC requests anything they will also try to “always help, to accompany,” because they are the protagonists.
“With the guarantees that the Colombian government offers, I believe that with a good debate, good dialogue, and good agreements, I believe that yes, the FARC could join a political process without arms and the National Liberation Army (ELN) as well,” said the Venezuelan president.
As he praised and thanked Santos for the recognition of Venezuela as an accompanying country, Chavez added that he has not “moved beyond the limits” put forth by the Colombian president. He stressed that he would be “prudent and say little” that could generate any kind of unnecessary misunderstanding.
Chavez spoke of the good “humane political” relationship that he maintains with Santos and said that besides being “opposites” they have had productive results in the past.
On the other side, Chavez refused to respond to former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe’s claim that the peace talks with the FARC are being held as a favor for Chavez to help ensure his re-election in October. The talks are “electoral propaganda where Chavez can say he managed to seat the Colombian peace talks,” said Uribe.
“There are things to which one should not respond, because they are of low ilk,” said Chavez in response to the accusation.
However when he was asked about his country’s stance on capturing guerrillas in the future, Chavez said that, “Venezuela is not a site for Colombian guerrilla camps.”
“I hope that the weeks and months to come a situation is not presented of this kind, one also hopes that the intensity of the military clashes lower in Colombia,” he added.
The FARC and the Colombian government have been holding secret “exploratory” talks in Cuba over the past six months. The two warring parties have agreed to now enter a second phase of the peace negotiations, to be held in Norway in October. They hope to conclude with the signing of a peace accord ending Colombia’s 48-year-old armed conflict.