Meeting yesterday in Quito, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño and his Colombian counterpart, María Ángela Holguín, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen their countries’ bilateral relationship and to work together on issues of common concern.
Upon arriving in Quito on Wednesday morning, Minister Holguín greeted the Ecuadorian public, saying she felt “truly at home.”
During the meeting, which lasted nearly six hours and was also attended by other government officials, Holguín and Patiño focused largely on border issues, including deepening police and military controls to reduce the flow in gas and oil contraband, promoting development and tourism and facilitating free trade.
Criticizing the truce agreement reached two weeks ago by Colombia and Ecuador’s heavy transport associations—which ended a 60-day blockade of goods transport over claims by Colombian truckers of “unfair competition”—Holguín affirmed that “it is the governments of Ecuador and Colombia who establish transit norms.” Patiño agreed: “Transport organizations are not the ones who define the mechanisms, norms, or, worse, sanctions” on the transit of goods.
Ministers Holguín and Patiño also discussed infrastructure and energy, including expanding the Rumichaca Bridge (the principal passage between Ecuador and Colombia), developing a new point of connection at the International Bridge of San Miguel, and collaborating on a geothermal project. They confirmed that President Santos will meet with Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa next Monday, in addition to Ecuadorian business leaders. His visit will be the first by a Colombian head of state to Ecuador after the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in November 2009. Relations had been severed in March 2008 after Colombian security forces conducted a deadly attack against a FARC camp on Ecuadorian territory.
Minister Holguín also brought to Quito Colombia’s ratification of the treaty establishing UNASUR, making it the last country to do so.