Maduro hosts Colombia's Petro for 'very fruitful' talks

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro made a surprise trip to meet his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on Saturday -- their second face-to-face after the thawing of a years-long diplomatic freeze.

The two leaders held talks for about three hours in Caracas at the Miraflores presidential palace, where Petro -- Colombia's first-ever leftist president -- arrived around midday.

The summit came just days after the final reopening of the South American neighbors' shared border, closed in a spat over Maduro's disputed 2018 reelection.

"We had a comprehensive and very fruitful meeting," Maduro tweeted after the meeting.

"We have a clear path of shared work that will continue to give positive results for our countries, in different areas. Long live the union between Colombia and Venezuela!" Maduro said in his message, which Petro later shared on his own Twitter account.

Petro shook hands with Maduro and left the palace without speaking to the media.

It is the leaders' second meeting since Petro took power from Ivan Duque last August and the official resumption of diplomatic ties a month later.

Petro also visited Maduro on November 1, when he called for Venezuela to be brought back into a regional trade alliance and human rights system.

Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with its neighbor in 2019 after increasingly strained ties with Petro's predecessors Juan Manuel Santos and conservative Duque -- who Maduro accused of orchestrating plans to assassinate him.

The final straw came when Duque backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido -- recognized by dozens of countries as the victor in 2018 elections claimed by Maduro.

Reestablishing ties with Venezuela was one of Petro's first moves as president.

On January 2, the countries reopened the last stretch of their shared 2,200-kilometer (1,350-mile) border partially closed seven years ago and then completely blocked in 2019.

The meeting also comes just days after Petro announced a ceasefire agreement with Colombia's last recognized guerrilla group, the ELN, only to have the combatants deny any such deal existed.

Venezuela is a guarantor of ongoing negotiations between the Colombian government and ELN in Petro's quest for "total peace" in a country that has seen decades of civil conflict.

Petro heads on Monday to Chile for a state visit and talks with another fellow leftist leader, Gabriel Boric.

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