The countries will appoint new ambassadors when Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro takes office next month, officials say.
Colombia and Venezuela will appoint new ambassadors to their respective capitals when Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro takes office next month, authorities said, in a bid to rebuild diplomatic ties after years of tension.
The decision was announced Thursday in a joint statement by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Carlos Faria and Colombian Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva after a meeting in the border town of San Cristobal.
Leyva read a statement saying the two had “expressed their willingness to make progress on a work program towards the gradual normalization of bilateral relations from August 7 by appointing ambassadors and diplomatic and consular officials.”
They also reaffirmed “their willingness to make joint efforts to guarantee security and peace on the border of our two countries”, he added.
Relations between Colombia and Venezuela have been strained for years over a range of issues, including an increase in the number of Venezuelan migrants crossing the countries’ common border amid a socio-economic crisis in their country.
The 2,219 km (1,379 mile) border has been the scene of clashes between armed groups, including the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissidents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
This has fueled tensions between the neighbors, with incumbent Colombian President Ivan Duque accusing his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro of harboring armed groups, and Maduro alleging that Duque participated in efforts to overthrow his government.
Duque also refused to recognize Maduro’s re-election in 2019, deepening the diplomatic divide.
But Petro, who will become Colombia’s first leftist president when he is sworn in on August 7, had promised to restore relations with Venezuela.
A former rebel, Petro also called on the ELN to work with the government for a ceasefire, saying “the time for peace has come”.
Leyva, the country’s new foreign minister, called Thursday’s meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart “historic” and said they had discussed “the gradual opening of the border”.
The border was closed between 2019 and October 2021, while the embassies and consulates of the two countries were closed and flights between neighbors were grounded.
Colombia continues to grapple with years of deadly armed violence between state security forces, right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing rebel groups such as the FARC.
A landmark report released in June by the country’s Truth Commission found that at least 450,664 people have been killed in nearly six decades of conflict, a toll it called “massive and intolerable”.
For its part, Venezuela has been rocked by political instability in recent years. Economic turmoil, lack of food and medicine and violence have forced millions to leave the country, according to a United Nations tally.