Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro reiterated Monday that his nation will not repair severed diplomatic ties with Colombia under President Alvaro Uribe, but will wait until Uribe’s succesor takes power to begin a dialogue.
“It’s necessary to wait until the Colombian people make their decision and choose a president, and from there we can start to walk the path that’s possible to walk,” Maduro told a press conference in the Dominican Republic, following a meeting with the Caribbean nation’s president, Leonel Fernandez.
Maduro called the diplomatic crisis between the two nation’s “regrettable,” but said that Colombia had provoked the crisis by signing a controversial military pact with the U.S., which allows North American military access to seven military bases around Colombia.
Maduro met with Fernandez to discuss matters such as trade and energy, in spite of his nation’s disapproval of the way the Dominican president attempted to mediate relations between the socialist nation and Colombia.
Venezuela cancelled a meeting scheduled by mediator Fernandez following a verbal clash between Uribe and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez at a summit in Mexico.
Venezuela was reportedly annoyed by Fernandez’s “unilateral” handling of mediations, which have since stalled.
Severed ties have dramatically the neighboring countries’ $7 billion trade, with Colombian exports to Venezuela plunging 70% in 2009.
Colombia and Venezuela have intermittently locked horns since Chavez took office more than a decade ago. Venezuela often complains about spillover from Colombia’s long guerrilla war, while Uribe’s government says Chavez has not done enough to stop FARC guerrillas from taking refuge the Venezuelan border.
Venezuela’s refusal to engage in mediations while Uribe remains in power has led to concerns over the future of the two nations’ relationship. Front-runner presidential candidate and former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos has a notoriously poor relationship with Venezuela.
Santos has attempted to soothe concerns, stating that although he and Chavez are “like water and oil,” if elected, he will “do everything possible to maintain the best relations” with Venezuela.