Venezuela to reopen Colombian embassy, allow normal diplomatic relations

Monday, March 10, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela said Sunday that it is reopening its embassy in Colombia and will allow back Colombian diplomats expelled last week by President Hugo Chavez in a crisis sparked by a cross-border Colombian attack on rebels in Ecuador.

The government cited an easing of tensions at a summit in the Dominican Republic on Friday, where President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa shook hands with Colombia's U.S.-backed leader, Alvaro Uribe, after a tense debate.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said it "has decided to re-establish the normal functioning of its diplomatic relations with the government of the Republic of Colombia," citing what it called a "victory for peace and sovereignty."

Chavez ordered the Venezuelan embassy in Bogota and sent troops to the border with Colombia after Colombia's March 1 strike in Ecuador that killed 25 people including Raul Reyes, a spokesman and top leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Venezuela also said it was expelling Colombia's ambassador and all diplomatic personnel.

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