By Jose Luis Paniagua
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Ecuador and Colombia ratified, within the framework of the Rio Group summit, their commitment to normalize relations that were broken off after Bogota’s March 2008 attack on a Colombian rebel camp inside Ecuadorian territory.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Monday, after a meeting with Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe in this Mexican resort, that their two countries took a “decisive step” toward normalizing relations.
The meeting of Uribe and Correa was their first bilateral encounter since the incident on March 1, 2008, when Colombian forces attacked a FARC guerrilla camp in the Ecuadorian jungle.
“Without ever forgetting the past so as not to repeat it, but looking toward the future,” both presidents ratified their willingness to normalize relations “as soon as possible,” Correa said.
“There’s no date, there’s no timetable, but there is a roadmap with requisites and requirements, basically on the part of Ecuador, to which the Colombian government has agreed,” he said.
He said that these demands comprise the handing over of information on the details of the attack “to eliminate any suspicion of intervention by a third country,” a reference to the United States, which at the time of the raid had a military unit operating from an air base in Ecuador.
He said that the demands also include reception of the computer hard drives seized by Colombian forces at the FARC camp that allegedly link Correa’s government to the insurgent group, claims angrily rejected by Quito.
At least 26 people died in the Colombian attack, including FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes and several Mexican college students.
For his part, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said in a brief statement to reporters that “the meeting with President Correa was held in good spirits.”
“The presidents basically repeated their willingness to make progress with mechanisms that will allow relations to be normalized, with the understanding that there exists a roadmap established by consent of the two presidents and agreed upon by the two foreign ministers,” Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said. EFE