Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa read a statement including a 7-point agreement following a mediated closed-door meeting between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos in the capital of Ecuador on Monday.
Correa affirmed the importance of bilateral dialogue and international respect in resolving tensions and disputes.
“There can be differences (between the two countries), but the love, affection ... allow any difficulty to be overcome,” President Correa said.
Reading from the 7-point statement, the Ecuadorean leader said that Venezuela and Colombia would reinstate their ambassadors, carefully investigate the border situation, while working to progressively normalize the border. The two countries will also continue talks supported by Uruguay and Ecuador, with a follow up meeting of ministers scheduled for Sept. 23.
“I’ve told our peoples, there is no room for hatred, for intolerance or for revenge,” said President Maduro, adding that peace always triumphs in the end in an effort to promote brotherhood between the two countries.
Correa also added that the two countries will examine how to cooperate despite their different economic models.
“We have two very different models of country development models,” President Santos said. “But we can work toward common goals agreed to by our two peoples.”
The meeting between the two leaders was facilitated by Correa and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and held under the auspices of Unasur and Celac Latin American regional blocs.
The joint press conference comes after weeks of tensions between the two countries following Venezuela’s decision to close its border with its neighbor and announce a state of exception in some of its border regions.
In August, Maduro announced the closure of the border in Tachira state after three Venezuelan soldiers were shot by suspected Colombian paramilitaries operating in the border region. The subsequent operations in the area have led to the capture of dozens of alleged paramilitaries, while also uncovering explosives making operations, brothels using minors and clandestine prisons that authorities say were likely used for kidnappings and tortures. The crackdown also led to the deportation of hundreds of undocumented Colombians living in Venezuelan territory.
Despite Venezuela’s security concerns, Colombia has accused its northeastern neighbor of human rights abuses against migrants of Colombian origin, a charge that Venezuela has claimed is politically-motivated since the country offers refuge to at least 176,000 Colombians escaping political violence in their homeland.
But on Monday, the tone between the two countries had significantly calmed.
“We respect Venezuela, but if I wanted to close the border, if I wanted to deport the Colombians who do not have their papers in order ... the only thing we ask is due process,” said Santos, while acknowledging Venezuela’s border concerns about organized crime.
“I fully understand the concern of the Venezuelan government about the mafia criminal gangs that have embedded themselves on on the border,” he added.
“We unite these struggles against criminal gangs, drug trafficking, against illegality,” Santo said, emphasizing that by “By working together, respecting our differences, I think we can achieve (solutions).”
“And as for Colombians, we only have affection, admiration, and respect (for the people of Venezuela).”