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Venezuela’s parliament, Colombia’s senate agree to start negotiations to restore ties: Caracas

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro addresses the media at the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela, on October 15, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Venezuela’s parliament and Colombia’s senate have agreed to start negotiations to resume relations between the two South American countries, Caracas says, as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro urges normalizing bilateral ties.

Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Jorge Rodriguez said in a press conference on Wednesday that both institutions had agreed to cooperate to restore and normalize relations between Caracas and Bogota.

Venezuela and Colombia, which share a 2,200-kilometer border, have not had diplomatic ties since early 2019, when Colombia joined the United States and a number of other countries in rejecting Maduro’s reelection in 2018 and recognizing opposition figure Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s “interim president.”

Rodriguez said that the head of the Colombian senate, Juan Diego Gomez Jimenez, had on Tuesday responded positively to a proposal put forward by the Venezuelan side to start negotiations to resume ties.

“[We will discuss] the following issues: first, normalization of diplomatic relations, second, normalization of trade and business relations, including mutual protection of companies,” the Venezuelan speaker said.

Separately on Wednesday and in a televised speech, Maduro called for the normalization of trade and diplomatic relations with Colombia.

“Colombia and Venezuela have to solve our problems in peace, we have to... normalize commercial, productive, economic relations. We have to normalize consular relations, diplomatic relations,” he said.

Maduro also welcomed the approval of a Venezuelan proposal by Colombia’s senate to create a federal commission between Caracas and Bogota to work on normalizing commercial and diplomatic relations.

This is while Colombian President Ivan Duque still refuses to recognize Maduro’s government. “As long as I am the president of Colombia... we are not going to recognize him,” he said during a recent meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Caracas’ relations with Bogota and Washington have turned sour since the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez, but tensions have escalated since January 2019. Maduro has said previously that Colombia is pushing plans to destabilize his government and force his overthrow.

US economic sanctions on Venezuela have, meanwhile, caused poverty, a lack of access to basic goods, gasoline shortages, and power cuts. Some Venezuelans have moved to other countries to avoid the dire economic situation, including some two million people who now reside in Colombia.

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