CARACAS ( Associated Press) – Colombian President Gustavo Petro arrived in Caracas on Saturday, where he met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, in a bid to step up closer ties that deteriorated during the previous Colombian government.
Petro, who assumed the Colombian presidency on August 7, 2022, has recognized Maduro as the legitimate ruler of Venezuela and his visit to the country is his second in less than three months.
“We had an extensive and very productive meeting,” Venezuela’s socialist ruler said in a tweet. “We have a clear path forward for joint work that will continue to produce positive results for our countries in various fields,” he said.
Colombia and Venezuela resumed relations in August 2022 after breaking off in 2019 when then-President of Colombia, Ivan Duque (2018–2022), recognized oppositionist Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela and won the 2018 presidential election. Maduro’s victory is ignored.
The two leaders did not issue a statement to the press at the end of their meeting at the Miraflores Palace.
According to a joint statement issued by the two presidents and posted on the Colombian President’s Twitter account, Maduro and Petro signed agreements regarding Venezuela’s support and promotion and mutual investment protection for Colombia as a guarantor country in the peace process. Discussed progress.
They also discussed review of bilateral trade agreement, inauguration of bridges connecting Colombia and Venezuela, other issues of bilateral cooperation.
The visit to the country that served as the site for the first meeting between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army – the last active guerrilla in Colombia – comes after Colombia announced on Wednesday the suspension of a bilateral ceasefire order, four days after the guerrillas The latter denied that they had reached an agreement with the government.
“A unilateral government decree cannot be accepted as a settlement,” the ELN said in a statement.
A second round of talks between the ELN and the government is scheduled for January to discuss a final ceasefire. The government and the ELN resumed talks for the peace process in November 2022 after having been suspended three years earlier.
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez received Petro in the Venezuelan capital and accompanied him to the Miraflores Palace, where he was received by Maduro and his wife Celia Flores.
The President’s meeting was also attended by Venezuelan Oil Minister Tarek El Aissami and Agriculture and Lands Minister Wilmar Castro Mateldo.
On the Colombian side, Chief of Staff Laura Sarabia, Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva, Colombian Ambassador to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, Colombian Ambassador to the United States, Luis Gilberto Murillo and Minister of Commerce, German Umana.
Maduro has expressed on various occasions that the time is right to create a new phase of cooperation and strengthen ties with Colombia, which Petro previously considered the United States’ largest ally in South America.