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Venezuela's Chavez 'optimistic' over Colombia

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Venezuela's Chavez 'optimistic' over Colombia


Venezuela’s foreign minister is to attend the inauguration of new Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in what’s being seen as a thaw in relations between the two countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke off links with Colombia two weeks ago after Bogota accused Chavez of harbouring Colombian rebels.

But now he says he is sending Nicolas Maduro to the swearing-in ceremony amid prospects for less antagonism with the new government.

Chavez said: “He is heading to Bogota for the inauguration of President Santos and he has a mission that we have discussed a lot here today with Secretary-General Nestor Kirchner who is [also] going to Bogota. We are very optimistic. We just have to move forward.”

Former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner has been leading mediation efforts along with Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Relations between Chavez and outgoing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe soured after Colombia bombed a guerrilla camp in Ecuador two years ago and bilateral trade has withered since 2009 hurting both countries’ economies.

Though Chavez will not be going to today’s ceremony he has made clear he hopes for better ties with Santos who is under pressure from exporters to normalise business as trade between the two nations is worth billions of dollars annually.

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