Venezuela pledges support for Colombia peace talks

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013
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Since Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office in 2010, he has built friendly ties with Chavez, ending the animosity between the two countries during the presidency of Santos' predecessor, Alvaro Uribe.

Political tensions during Uribe's tenure had led to a drop in trade, and in the past two years commerce between Colombia and Venezuela has been rebounding.

In previous years, Colombian officials accused Chavez's government of providing refuge to rebels, and the U.S. government has said some senior Venezuela military officials have provided the FARC with arms and helped it traffic in cocaine.

Chavez and his government have denied those accusations, though the rebels have expressed affinity with the socialist leader's ideals.

Fernando Gerbasi, a former Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia, said Holguin's visit to Caracas had been scheduled weeks ago and said he didn't think her visit was related to the uncertain situation in Venezuela surrounding Chavez's condition. He said Colombia's foreign minister in particular wanted to make sure Venezuela will keep cooperating in the peace talks.

Vicente Torrijos, a political analyst at Rosario University in Bogota, said stability in Venezuela is crucial for Colombia so that Venezuela's government continues supporting the negotiations.

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Associated Press writers Vivian Sequera and Cesar Garcia in Bogota contributed to this report.