Venezuela and Colombia both named new ambassadors to the other country on Thursday, a first step in normalising diplomatic relations after the recent inauguration of Colombian President Gustavo Petro.
In Caracas, President Nicolas Máduro announced that former Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia had requested his accreditation from the Colombian government "and will soon be in Bogotá."
Petro, who was inaugurated as Colombia's first leftist president on Sunday, pledged during his campaign to immediately reverse a decision by his predecessor, right-wing leader Iván Duque, to sever diplomatic ties with Venezuela.
Duque, along with the United States, the European Union and others, did not recognize Máduro’s re-election in 2019 and instead backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó's claim that he is Venezuela's interim president.
"In response to the Venezuelan government, I have appointed an ambassador who will (also) be tasked with normalising diplomatic relations between the two countries," Petro said in a video. The Colombian ambassador in Caracas will be a former senator, Armando Benedetti.
In addition to exchanging ambassadors, the normalisation process will include the full reopening of the more than 2,000-kilometre (1,200-mile) border between the two countries, which has been largely closed to vehicles since 2015 – though it has been open to pedestrians since late last year.
Caracas and Bogotá have also announced intentions to restore military relations.
"We will continue step by step and at a safe pace to advance toward the restoration and reconstruction of political, diplomatic and commercial relations," Máduro said on state television.