US urges Colombia to stick to democratic values after Gustavo Petro's visit to Venezuela

Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Tuesday met his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in capital Caracas.

US urges Colombia to stick to democratic values after Gustavo Petro's visit to Venezuela

The US has urged Colombia to uphold democratic rights and norms following the visit of its president to Venezuela after a three-year hiatus in diplomatic ties.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: "We’ve urged Colombia to continue working with its partners in multilateral fora, to advocate for a democratic and prosperous hemisphere as well, and to hold accountable governments that have violated the democratic rights and the democratic norms."

On Tuesday Colombian President Gustavo Petro held talks with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in the capital Caracas in their first meeting since the two countries reestablished diplomatic relations after a three-year break.

On the October meeting in the capital Bogota of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Colombia's newly sworn-in President Petro, Price said: "Venezuela was top on the agenda. We thanked Colombia for the important role that they’re playing when it comes to hosting some 2 million Venezuelan refugees, and we discussed ways we can work together with Colombia to hold the Maduro regime to account."

Criticizing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for denying democratic norms, Price said: "Our posture won’t change until and unless we see progress on the rights of the Venezuelan people."

Saying US sanctions on Venezuela will remain, Price said: "We have been very deliberate in promoting accountability for the rights abuses that are taking place and that have taken place in Venezuela."

The last Colombian leader to visit Venezuela was Juan Manuel Santos in 2016.

Since Petro came to power, he has made efforts to reestablish diplomatic ties with Venezuela, which had broken off ties due to then-Colombian President Ivan Duque’s support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.