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Colombian, Venezuelan leaders to meet on bilateral trade

04-09-2011 15:36 BJT

BOGOTA, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday he will talk with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez about bilateral trade following the exit of Venezuela from the Andean Community of Nations.

Santos said he hopes the meeting will define a legal framework for Colombian-Venezuelan trade.

"If this is achieved, it will also unlock a dark cloud we had in our trade with Venezuela, which is very important for us," Santos said during a meeting with congressional committees in the town of Anapoima.

The Andean Community, also known as CAN in Spanish, is a customs union currently comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Chavez announced in April 2006 his country's withdrawal from the Andean Community after Colombia and Peru signed free trade deals with the United States. The entire exit process could take up to five years, according to Venezuelan officials.

Saturday's meeting, which will be the third between Chavez and Santos, will take place in the Caribbean city of Cartagena de Indias, where 2,000 troops have bee deployed for the summit.

The two presidents are expected to review the bilateral agenda and assess the performance of five committees established after the normalization of relations between the two countries in August, when Santos and Chavez met for the first time.

Another topic will be the status of the suspected Venezuelan drug lord, Walid Makled, captured last year in Colombia and requested for extradition by Caracas and Washington.

Chavez broke off relations with Colombia in July 2010 after then Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused Caracas of protecting Colombian rebels.

The two countries restored diplomatic relations when Santos and Chavez met on Aug. 10, three days after he took office as Colombian president.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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