Venezuela, Colombia presidents to discuss border dispute
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he plans to meet with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos next week to discuss ways to end the acrimonious border dispute between the two South American countries.
Maduro announced the decision at an event marking the new scholastic year in Venezuela on Wednesday, saying, “The meeting will be next Monday in Quito,” the capital city of Ecuador.
“I’m ready. I have my pencil to sign a peace deal,” the Venezuelan president said.
Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin confirmed the meeting, saying that the presidents of Ecuador and Uruguay will also be present at the upcoming border negotiations.
On August 19, unidentified assailants attacked the Venezuelan soldiers who were performing an anti-smuggling operation in the city of San Antonio in Tachira State, leaving four people injured.
Maduro blamed the incident on Colombian paramilitaries, ordering the closure of the country’s border with Colombia and declaring a 60-day state of emergency in parts of the frontier.
Caracas’ decision greatly infuriated officials in Bogota. Venezuelans, however, have voiced support for the move, saying they were unfairly paying the price for Colombia’s inability to control criminal gangs active on its borders.
“Colombian smugglers inflicted damage on our economy, but that is being inverted now since the borders [have been] sealed,” Venezuelan economist Jairo Larotta earlier told Press TV.
Following the shooting incident, Venezuela deported hundreds of Colombian migrants, while thousands of others left the restive area voluntarily amid the escalation of tensions.