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History, practicality reunite Colombia, Venezuela

08-12-2010 10:20 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez agreed Tuesday to reestablish diplomatic relations after a long meeting in Santa Marta, a city on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

What impressed the world was not only the two leaders walking shoulder to shoulder at a colonial-era residence where South American independence hero Simon Bolivar died in 1830, but also their description of bilateral relations as "brotherly countries."

From a rupture on July 22 to the restoration, the dramatic change in bilateral relations in merely 19 days spoke of a truth -- the two Andean countries are neighbors after all. Neighbors that share a deep historical and cultural origin, a long friendship and substantial common interests. Bitter disagreements and outside influence will not leave the two countries in a tense spot for long.

The mere choice of Santa Marta as the venue for the presidential meeting carried symbolic meaning. Both countries became Spanish colonies in the 16th century and have had similar experiences in fighting against colonial rule and striving for independence.

Chavez, who regards Bolivar as the inspiration of his socialist movement, said it was appropriate to mend fences at such a sacred place. During their meeting, both leaders quoted Bolivar several times as their inspiration, an reflection of the historic and cultural bonds between the neighbors.

Bitter disagreements over the status of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and relations with the United States have separated the two countries in recent years.

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