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Colombia and Venezuela nearer to full diplomatic relations.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, left, talks to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez before signing bilateral agreements at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday Nov. 2, 2010. Santos is on a one-day official visit to Venezuela. (Credit to AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

It was all smiles and friendly talk of brotherhood and shared destiny at the presidential palace in Caracas yesterday, as the leaders of Colombia and Venezuela met to reaffirm their commitment to fully restore diplomatic ties and put recent bitter disputes behind them.

The two neighboring Andean nations began work to restore broken relations shortly after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office in August.

“We are determined that no one or anything will derail us,” said Santos during his second meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez since August. “We’ve gone from good-intentioned statements to concrete accords,” he added.

The two leaders signed a series of bilateral agreements aimed at strengthening ties, including deals on energy, tourism, cultural exchanges, economic development, border security and fighting drug trafficking. Among the infrastructure projects they agreed to are plans to build oil and gas pipelines as well as a new bridge straddling their shared border.

The agreements signal the end of several years of tense relations between the two nations, during which mutual accusations and distrust resulted in Venezuela sending troops to the Colombian border, both countries recalling their envoys, and bilateral trade plummeting.

In July, Chavez broke...READ MORE HERE