UPDATE 1-Venezuela to pay debts to Colombian exporters

* Venezuela to pay first part of debt within 15 days

* Colombia says owed $800 million

* Bilateral trade ties worth $7 billion in 2008
(Adds minister quote, details)

By Deisy Buitrago

CARACAS, Aug 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Venezuela agreed on Friday to
pay $200 million it owes Colombian exporters within 15 days, a
step towards restoring billions of dollars of trade lost
between the Andean neighbors countries because of a diplomatic
feud.

After a day of meetings between the countries’ ministers,
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said $200 million
will be paid to Colombian businessmen by the Venezuelan
government within two weeks as a first step towards repairing
trade ties.

“We want to have healthy trade ties, the most transparent
possible, with a fluidity that allows for the permanent
restoration of trade relations,” Maduro said.

Trade between the two nations rose to nearly $7 billion two
years ago, but dwindled after Venezuelan Socialist President
Hugo Chavez partially froze bilateral commerce to protest a
deal by Bogota to allow the U.S. military more access to its
air force bases.

Venezuela briefly broke off diplomatic relations with
Colombia last month after former President Alvaro Uribe, in his
last days in office, accused Chavez of harboring top Colombian
rebel leaders.

Relations have warmed since Colombian President Juan Manuel
Santos took office this month, and normal commercial relations
are expected to be restored relatively quickly.

Colombia says it is owed close to $800 million by Venezuela
for products exported over the last year and says the payment
of that debt is as important as the restoration of trade ties.

Trade between the countries before the break was largely
one way, with Colombia selling Venezuela food and other
consumer goods. Colombian farmers have sought out new markets
in the last few months, but Venezuela’s proximity and high
demand make it a natural trading partner.

(Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

UPDATE 1-Venezuela to pay debts to Colombian exporters