BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian President Ivan Duque on Thursday ruled out a prompt reopening of his country’s border with Venezuela, citing a high-level of COVID-19 infections.

The 2,219km (1,380-mile) land and water border between the two neighbors – who do not maintain diplomatic relations – has been closed since last year. A new reopening date of June 1 was set by Bogota earlier this year.

“I know all the urgency there is for the issue of opening the border,” Duque said during a visit to the border province of Norte de Santander. But Colombia had to be “especially cautious” given the uncertainty over the COVID-19 situation in Venezuela, he said.

Colombia is the top destination for Venezuelans fleeing social and economic destruction in their country. More than 1.7 million Venezuelans reside in Colombia, which is set to grant most of them 10-year legal status.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Karishma Singh

Source: Reuters