Ecuador, Colombia seek normalization of ties

18:02, December 16, 2009      

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Ecuador and Colombia are working to normalize diplomatic ties severed 22 months ago but both countries concede that they still have differences on "sensitive issues."

The two countries agreed in November to appoint envoys to their respective embassies, but a total restoration of ties has yet to be completed.

Ecuador severed ties with Colombia on March 3, 2008, two days after the Colombian Army raided a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Ecuador. The raid was seen by Ecuadoras a violation of its territorial sovereignty.

Ecuador has expressed the importance of restoring ties.

"It is necessary to fix the ties between Quito and Bogota, giving priority to the defense of Ecuador's interests," Marco Proano Mayo, the former vice president of the Latin American Parliament and one-time Ecuadorian presidential candidate, told Xinhua.

Ecuador has presented five conditions for the restoration of ties with Colombia. One of the sensitive issues is a request that Colombia provide detailed information about the raid on the FARC camp in the Ecuadorian province of Sucumbios.

The step of rapprochement between the two countries began in August when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe reaffirmed his apologies for the military raid in Angostura, Ecuador.

After that, the foreign ministries of both countries began to hold meetings. Ricardo Montenegro, the charge d'affairs of Colombia in Ecuador, said last month that both governments have agreed to restart the Borders Binational Commission (COMBIFRON).

Both countries also agreed to appoint before Dec. 10, military and police attaches for their diplomatic representations, as well as a high level group of the COMBIFRON.

After that meeting the process to restore ties would continue with a new meeting between the foreign ministries of both countries.

Montenegro said that that would practically be the final point to fully restoring diplomatic ties.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said on Nov. 3 that the clear political will of both governments on moving ahead was positive, though he stressed the need of establishing a field of action for dealing with "sensitive issues."

The military cooperation agreement between Colombia and the United States has also aroused Ecuador's concern. Falconi said that there was a series of questions about that agreement that must be answered.

On Nov. 23, Ecuador and Colombia formally established ties at the trade representation level. Falconi said the move "not only implies the advance toward a normalization of their diplomatic ties, but also creates a climate of mutual trust."

Colombia and Ecuador also have established three tables to discuss issues of security and crime, borders, and other sensitive issues.

Source: Xinhua
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