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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ecuador and Colombia to Start Talks Aimed at Normalizing Relations

28 September 2009
NEW YORK – The governments of Ecuador and Colombia said they will begin a process of “direct dialogue” next month with a view to normalizing their diplomatic relations.

“The presidents of Ecuador and Colombia have instructed their foreign ministries to complete the designation of charges d’affaires by the start of October,” Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said Thursday. His Ecuadorian counterpart, Fander Falconi, said at a press conference that same day that both governments agreed on “a document with 11 concrete points establishing the methodology for dialogue.”

The agreement was hammered out Thursday after several meetings between Bermudez and Falconi in New York, where the two are attending sessions of the U.N. General Assembly.

In a joint communique, the Colombian government reiterated its pledge not to “conduct military or security operations in Ecuadorian territory” while Quito said “it will not tolerate the presence of illegal armed groups on its territory and that any armed incursion will be repelled, if necessary by force.”

The two sides agreed to form commissions within two weeks to solve problems related to security and crime-prevention, the development of border communities and other issues of bilateral concern, the statement read, adding that they will resort to the mediation of the U.S.-based Carter Center and the Organization of American States for the “most sensitive” issues.

Ecuador broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia in March 2008 following a Colombian bombing raid on a clandestine camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group in Ecuadorian territory, an attack that killed 25 people, including rebel second-in-command Raul Reyes.

Tensions were ratcheted up further after an Ecuadorian judge three months ago requested an international arrest warrant for Colombia’s former defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, who ordered the raid, and Colombia subsequently released a video showing a rebel commander talking about contributions to Correa’s electoral campaign. EFE

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