CUCUTA, Colombia – Colombia and Venezuela will resume the infrastructure and energy-security projects that were suspended amid a crisis that affected their relations for more than a year, the two neighbors’ foreign ministers said during a meeting in this border city.
Colombia’s Maria Angela Holguin and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said that these matters, together with trade, must again become the central theme of their bilateral relations.
Holguin admitted feeling somewhat ashamed at the results achieved in shared infrastructure, since “so many years” have gone by “talking about the same projects without doing anything about them.”
“Many of the projects on the table today – building international bridges, binational assistance centers on the border – go back a long way in these regions,” the Colombian minister said.
She said that funding has been guaranteed for creating “an integrated system of mass passenger transport for the binational metropolitan area of Cucuta, which will also benefit Ureña and San Antonio” in Venezuela.
For his part, the Venezuelan foreign minister said that on Friday the binational energy commission will start to “revive a series of projects on which work had already begun in the recent past.”
Maduro said that these are “vital topics for the stability and energy security” of the two nations, and said it was important to make “infrastructure projects our center of attention once again...to be able to step up development of border integration.”
Progress will also be made on an accord to complement each other economically and to promote joint economic development, he said.
“We have come to this meeting with all the will in the world to continue laying out a new map of cooperation, integration and brotherhood between Colombia and Venezuela,” Maduro said.
Also taking part in Thursday’s meeting were the two countries’ ministers of energy, trade, defense and transportation.
The delegations held a general meeting at the offices of the Norte de Santander provincial government in Cucuta, after which they split up into commissions to deal with specific matters.
The results of their discussions will set the stage for the meeting that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez will hold in Venezuela at the end of October.
At an Aug. 10 summit in Santa Marta, Colombia, the two leaders resolved a long bilateral crisis that led to breaking off diplomatic ties in July – before Santos took office – which particularly affected bilateral trade.
Colombia and Venezuela share 2,219 kilometers (1,379 miles) of common border. EFE