Colombia will open talks with Nicaragua on protecting the rights of Colombian fishermen in waters awarded to Managua in a world court ruling, the Andean nation's foreign minister said Tuesday.
Maria Angela Holguin made the announcement at a press conference on San Andres Island, the largest in the Colombian Caribbean archipelago whose waters were split Monday by the International Court of Justice between Nicaragua and Colombia.
The ICJ said Monday that seven Caribbean islets belong to Colombia, having earlier confirmed Bogota's claim to the larger islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, part of an archipelago 775 kilometers (480 miles) from mainland Colombia and 220 kilometers (140 miles) from the coast of Nicaragua.
But Monday's decision also significantly expanded the waters under Nicaraguan control.
The ruling, which is not subject to appeal, allows Managua to claim an area extending 200 nautical miles from its Caribbean coast, with the exception of the waters immediately surrounding San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina.
The waters conceded to Nicaragua include lucrative fishing grounds and what are thought to be substantial oil deposits.
"We hope to have good relations with the government of Nicaragua. At the (Nov. 16-17 Ibero-American) Cadiz Summit we were seeing that possibility, but there are subjects that have to be worked out in terms of fishing, security, the war on drugs - so it's pretty certain we'll have a meeting," Holguin said Tuesday.
"We have to reach an agreement...so the (San Andres) islanders can continue fishing where they always have," she said.
About 700 of the more than 70,000 inhabitants of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina make their living from fishing. EFE