Venezuela Top Agenda in Blinken’s Visit to Ecuador and Colombia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Latin America this week to discuss efforts to tackle chaotic migration, where Colombia hosts nearly 2 million Venezuelan migrants and Ecuador also hosts large numbers.

In a statement Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken spoke the same day with Chile’s foreign minister and Colombia’s vice president and thanked them for their role as co-hosts of the “Meeting Wednesday’s Ministerial Level on Migration Matters in Bogota included efforts to “grant temporary protection status to nearly 2 million Venezuelan migrants.”

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price holds a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, USA, February 8, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price holds a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

In a separate statement, Price said Blinken spoke with Chile’s foreign minister who expressed his appreciation for participating in Wednesday’s meeting and “continued support from Chile for refugees and migrants from the region, in particular from Venezuela and Haiti.”

“They alluded to common goals in bilateral relations, including immediate action to cooperate in supporting orderly, safe and humane migration in the region, as well as stopping the uncontrolled flow of irregular migrants in the hemisphere,” the statement added.

Venezuela is reportedly high on the agenda when Blinken visits Ecuador and Colombia this week, his first visit to South America as the top US diplomat.

On Tuesday (19/10), Blinken met in Quito with Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso and Foreign Minister Mauricio Montalvo to continue discussions on democratic governance and issues such as counter-narcotics and migration.

The United States has called for continued political talks between the Venezuelan government and the country’s opposition, saying the extradition of a close ally of President Nicolás Maduro to the United States is a separate issue from the negotiations.

Maduro’s government announced over the weekend plans to halt talks after Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman accused of laundering money on behalf of the Venezuelan government, was extradited to the United States from Cape Verde to face several charges. [mg/jm]

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