Sun, Nov 28, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Heads of Colombia, Ecuador agree to full renewal of ties

AFP, GEORGETOWN

The presidents of Colombia and Ecuador said they had agreed to fully reestablish ties broken off more than two years ago, at a South American summit in Guyana on Friday.

“We’ve decided to fully reestablish our relations. I celebrate this very important step for our peoples,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, at the one-day Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) summit.

“I have to recognize the transparency and goodwill of Santos for responding to sensitive issues presented by Ecuador. We’ve started to move in the right direction,” Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa told journalists.

Ambassadors were set to return to their posts before Christmas, they said.

Quito broke off ties after Colombia bombed a camp of Colombian FARC leftist rebels in Ecuador on March 1, 2008, which left 25 dead, including Raul Reyes, second-in-command of the rebel group.

According to Santos, Colombia has now given information to Ecuador on the bombing. As former defense minister, Santos had ordered the attack.

Santos has since sought to improve ties with Ecuador and has also moved to improve previously tense relations with neighbor Venezuela since taking over Colombia’s presidency.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also attended the UNASUR summit.

Officials first honored Fernandez’s late husband, former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner, who died last month.

He was UNASUR’s first secretary general, but a replacement was not agreed upon during the summit.

The leaders agreed on measures to dissuade and punish attempted coups in the region — including closing borders, air traffic and limiting commerce — and stated that they sought further integration.

Eight of the 12 regional presidents attended the summit.

UNASUR was set up in May 2008 as part of efforts toward South American integration on issues such as security and economic policy. It is headquartered in Quito.

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