updated 1/28/2005 9:28:22 PM ET 2005-01-29T02:28:22

Venezuela and Colombia announced a settlement Friday in a bitter dispute over the capture of a Colombian rebel on Venezuelan soil, easing the worst diplomatic crisis between the South American countries in decades.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s office said in a statement Friday night that “the incident has been resolved” and that Uribe would meet Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday in Venezuela.

The conflict began nearly seven weeks ago, when the prominent Colombian rebel Rodrigo Granda stepped outside a cafe onto the streets of Caracas and bounty hunters seized him, pushed him into a sport utility vehicle and drove him to Colombia to claim their reward.

Chavez had called Granda’s capture a kidnapping that violated his country’s sovereignty and demanded that Uribe “rectify” the situation. Uribe had insisted his government had the right to offer rewards for “terrorists.”

The carefully worded statement from Colombia appeared to bridge the differences, referring to a shared strategy “against terrorism, drug trafficking, smuggling, kidnapping and other crimes.” It also said both sides would have “the strictest respect for the law and in particular the sovereignty of both countries.”

Uribe’s office said during the meeting next week he would “listen to President Chavez and propose ways to reflect.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency he was pleased to have settled the dispute.

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