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Foreign Ministers of Venezuela and Colombia renew commitment to integration agenda

The Foreign Ministers of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Motos, and Colombia, Jaime Bermúdez, renewed their commitment to an agenda of work, integration and peace for strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

The Ministers made press statements following discussions that are part of the Colombian delegation’s visit to Caracas.

“The world can see a plural Latin America, advancing and agreeing on their own paths,” expressed Foreign Minister Maduro in referring to the willingness of both governments to continue on the agenda set by Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Álvaro Uribe of Colombia when they met in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias in January.

Minister Maduro indicated that the agenda’s subjects include: the creation of a fund to meet binational and regional energy security needs; future-oriented trade policies between the two countries to create new mechanisms for payment in national currencies; as well as work towards the coordination, improvement and expansion of joint trade and investments in border areas, among others.

Maduro affirmed that Colombia and Venezuela has “two governments with the willingness and ability to become closer, with wide room for discussing their ideas and to implement them in projects that benefit the countries during this time of uncertainty in the world economy.”

According to the Venezuelan Minister, the meetings allowed the countries to talk about the topics of most interest, as well as to consider new areas in need of review.

He announced that “the Colombian government presented a working paper about an agreement for economic complementarity, trade accords, [and] a comprehensive economic accord; and in that sense, our work team agreed to respond in one week.”

These types of integration mechanisms advance the goals established by the presidents and affirmed by the foreign ministers “so that in the first quarter of this year we will have decisions about an accord for economic complementarity, trade development, and comprehensive economic development,” said Maduro.

Regarding a binational fund, Foreign Minister Maduro said that the work commissions established the parameters that would guide this investment fund in strengthening the economies of both countries.  As for the automotive sector, he spoke about natural gas vehicles.

In terms of food security, Maduro said they reached important accords that will be announced by the Ministry of Agriculture.  “They are very positive in terms of food [and agriculture] trade to guarantee the food basket of the Venezuelan people and advance in the development of this area,” he explained.

For his part, Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez said he was satisfied with the progress in the topics agreed upon by the presidents in Cartagena.  “There is an agenda that in the medium and long runs seeks to strengthen a permanent strategy, one which will not only allow us to escape the crisis but to also strengthen binational relations and a more solid and mature strategy,” he added.

The meeting between the foreign ministers included five working tables: border fuel trade, electricity, bio-fuels, natural gas, and the participation of Colombiana de Petróleo in the Orinoco Oil Belt through a bid and through the Grannacional firm.

On another topic, Bermúdez thanked Venezuela for supporting Colombia in its bid to assume the presidency of the Caribbean State Association.

Both foreign ministers agreed in affirming that the fight against drugs should be taken on jointly, in coordination and with reciprocity to work in an efficient manner.

Minister Maduro emphasized that the Director of Venezuela’s National Anti-Drugs Office, Néstor Reverol, took part in the meetings, which was an opportunity to speak about the successes Venezuela has achieved in this fight against drugs.

The Minister said that thanks to the Bolivarian Armed Force and other agencies involved in fighting this crime, Venezuela is a territory free of drug cultivation and drug processing laboratories.

Regarding fighting guerrillas and crime, Foreign Minister Maduro was emphatic in saying that anyone who commits a crime “will be captured, and if it is requested, they will be extradited.” He also urged the media to publish the positive statistics Venezuela has relating to extraditions.

For his part, Bermúdez reiterated that no fumigation plans for the border with Venezuela are in place, a matter which he said had been clarified by the Colombian government on several occasions.

Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / March 19, 2009

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