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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Colombia and Ecuador set out road map to normalize relations

Colombia Reports, February 23, 2010

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Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa set out a road map to begin normalizing broken diplomatic relations between their two nations at a summit in Mexico on Monday.

The two heads of state took advantage of their attendance at the Rio Group Summit to hold the first official meeting between their nations since diplomatic relations were broken in March 2008, following a Colombian attack on a FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory.

Correa told press that the meeting "met expectations, it is a decisive step towards normalizing relations" and all that remained was to reinstate the ambassadors.

"Without ever forgetting the past so as not to repeat it, but looking towards the future," Correa said he hoped that the nations would normalize relations "as soon as possible."

"There's no date, there's no time-line, but there is a road map and requests and requirements on Ecuadors's part, which the Colombian government has agreed to," the Ecuadorean president continued.

Correa said that Ecuador requires that Colombia provide information on the 2008 FARC camp bombing "to eliminate suspicion of intervention from a third country," in reference to the U.S.

Other requirements include that Ecuador be given access to FARC computer hard drives seized by Colombia in the raid, which supposedly link Correa's government to the guerrilla organization.

Correa said that the two nations will rely on the help of the human rights organization the Carter Center and the Organization of American States to address these "sensitive" topics.

Uribe said little to press at the summit except to comment that the meeting went well.

"The most important thing is that the presidents reiterated the desire to advance the mechanisms that allow the normalization of relations, since there is now a road map established because of the willingness of the two presidents," Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said.

"There will be a commission on sensitive topics, where themes of interest and concern from one side to the other side can be addressed... and it was agreed that this should be called as soon as possible, " Bermudez added.

Ecuador broke off relations with Colombia following the Colombian incursion into Ecuadorean territory while pursuing guerrillas on March 1, 2008. FARC leader "Raul Reyes" and 26 others, including an Ecuadorean, were killed in the raid, which Ecuador viewed as undermining its sovereignty.

Colombia accused Correa's government of links with the FARC due to evidence allegedly found on Raul Reyes' computer.

Both countries accused the other of failing to police the border region, which was plagued by illegal armed groups with links to drug trafficking. Relations between two countries began to improve after talks in September last year.

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