Colombia, Venezuela Mend Diplomatic Ties

Diplomatic ties between Colombia and Venezuela have been restored after new Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, on Tuesday.

The meeting, held in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal city of Santa Marta, was the first high-profile encounter between the two neighboring countries since Chavez severed diplomatic ties with Bogota following accusations from Santos’ predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, that Caracas was providing safe haven to Colombian rebels.

The reconciliation was also unexpected as Santos had been critical of Chavez when he was still the defense minister under Uribe’s administration. As part of the reconciliation, the two leaders agreed to reappoint ambassadors to each other’s countries and improve military ties. The meeting also raised hopes that economic relationship between the two countries would improve in the coming years after inter-country trade plunged 30 percent in 2009.

Chavez, as he had done in the past, also denied that his country is harboring Colombian rebels like the FARC, assuring Santos that he will support Colombia‚Äôs effort to defeat the insurgents. “Count on my friendship,” Chavez told Santos.