The Venezuelan government will not repair ties with Colombia while President Alvaro Uribe is in power, but hopes to normalize relations after the election of a new Colombian president, Venezuela’s foreign minister said Sunday.
“We must await the outcome of presidential elections in Colombia and await the arrival of a new president to go forward. All that can be done today is to focus on creating conditions for the time,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said during an appearance on Venezuelan television program “Jose Vicente Hoy.”
Caracas hopes that “with the new Colombian president clear relations can be established, based on the respect of our country,” Maduro said.
“President Chavez has said very clearly that it is our desire to return relations with Colombia to the best point possible … But we must give it time … everybody is thinking about post-Uribismo,” Maduro explained.
Uribe “turned Bogota into a center of conspiracy against the stability of our country and the region,” Maduro said, in reference to Colombia’s pact with the U.S., which allows the North American nation access to seven military bases around Colombia.
Maduro said that this was the principal reason that Venezuela had severed relations with Colombia.
The foreign minister’s comments suggest that Venezuela will not resume diplomatic relations with Colombia until Uribe leaves office in August.
Despite Maduro’s comments, he will meet with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez in Santo Domingo today to discuss repairing ties with Colombia.
The Dominican Republic is heading a “group of friend countries” that formed following a verbal clash between Uribe and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez at a summit in Mexico in February. The group of friend countries aims to mediate the resumption of broken diplomatic relations between the Andean nations.
Fernandez has already met with Colombian delegates in what he called a “positive first meeting.” The Caribbean leader said he was hopeful he could mediate a reconciliation between the sparring countries.
Colombia will hold presidential elections in May. Uribe is not eligible to run, after the Constitutional Court ruled that a proposed referendum to allow his re-election was unconstitutional.
A history of strained relations between Venezuela and presidential election front-runner candidate Santos, means the future of diplomatic relations between the two nations is uncertain.
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 over his border.