BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, plan to meet next week in a bid to improve relations after a diplomatic spat in May triggered by Santos’ meeting with Venezuela’s main opposition leader.
Maduro was infuriated by what he called Santos’ “betrayal” for meeting Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost Venezuela’s presidential election in April, and accused Santos of being part of a plot to overthrow him.
“On Monday I will meet on the border with President Maduro for a complete revision of the state of relations,” Santos said in a message from his Twitter account on Tuesday. He did not specify on which side of the border the meeting would take place.
In a televised broadcast, Maduro confirmed the planned meeting but said the precise location had not yet been determined.
“We go with the best good faith, the best goodwill,” Maduro said from the presidential palace in Caracas. “We believe in the coexistence of brothers, in the peaceful coexistence of different models and we will talk with President Santos and hopefully re-establish the rules of play for the prosperity of both our nations.”
The South American nations have had patchy relations for the past decade due largely to ideological differences, but center-right Santos’ diplomatic approach since taking office in 2010 has eased tensions.
Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said this week relations with Caracas were “a little cold” but added that dialogue had continued since the diplomatic dispute. Monday’s meeting would be the two leaders’ first encounter since the spat.
Capriles’ visit to Colombia’s presidential palace was part of a planned tour of Latin American nations to press his case that the election that Maduro won by a margin of 1.5 percentage points was fraudulent.
Maduro, the political heir of late socialist President Hugo Chavez, put bilateral relations under review and questioned whether Venezuela would remain involved in peace talks held in Cuba between the Colombian government and Marxist FARC rebels.
Chavez died in March after a long battle with cancer.
Reporting by Helen Murphy, Nelson Bocanegra and Monica Garcia in Bogota and Diego Ore in Caracas; Editing by Mohammad Zargham