World » Americas
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Venezuela and Colombia discuss end to bilateral dispute

South American countries entered into a diplomatic scandal after Bogota admitted having ilegally captured a prominent rebel leader in Caracas

The diplomatic conflict between Colombia and Venezuela sparked by the illegal capture of a prominent Colombian rebel in Caracas may have an end in the following hours. Both neighboring South American nations are studying a draft prepared by Bogota to reach an understanding and resume full ties halted since the beginning of the crisis.

According to the Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias, the scandal may have “a happy end”, as sources in Caracas confirm that presidents Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Alvaro Uribe (Colombia) are studying a bilateral resolution which may include an apologize from Bogota. However, it is not clear whether an eventual apologize from Bogota will be enough to put an end to the conflict.

During a massive rally in Caracas last weekend, Chavez directly accused Washington of being behind the operation to arrest Rodrigo Granda, an acting foreing minister of Colombia's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Washington replied asking Chavez to cooperate with Colombia in its fight against rebels. Colombia is US closest ally in South America and destiny for billions of dollars in military aid.

Colombia says Chavez's Venezuela aids rebels by allowing them to cross borders and find shelter from its military. Venezuela denied such accusations and asked for documentation probing them. Bogota announced this week it would provide with evidence, but failed to do it publicly as opted to discuss the issue through diplomatic channels.

Chavez denies he harbors rebels and denounced Granda's capture as a violation of Venezuela's sovereignty, accusing the United States of being involved. He has severed commercial agreements between the Venezuelan and Colombian governments and demanded that Colombia apologize. Uribe has refused, insisting that Colombia has the right to offer rewards for the capture of terrorists at home or abroad. Washington has denied U.S. involvement.
 
In the meantime, Venezuela halted bilateral ties, recalled its ambassador to Bogota, and asked for explanations about the illegal operation in Caracas. Colombia confirmed its agents bribed Venezuelan security personell to get Granda out of Venezuela and back to Colombia.

To sit both sides to the negotiations tables, efforts were made by other countries of the region as Brazil, Peru, and later Argentina. However, even when thanked regional cooperation, Caracas and Bogota opted to discuss the issue bilaterally. 

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