August 22, 2015 / 5:18 PM / in 2 years

Venezuela border closing hurts innocent people: Colombian president

Venezuela's National Guards (bottom) stand in front of Colombia's soldiers at Simon Bolivar international bridge, on the border with Colombia, at San Antonio in Tachira state, Venezuela August 20, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Venezuela’s closure of two border crossings with Colombia hurts innocent people, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Saturday, adding that he hoped to speak to his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro to find a solution.

Maduro closed the crossings on Wednesday after a shootout between smugglers and troops left three soldiers wounded. He declared a 60-day state of emergency in five border municipalities on Friday.

“We’re willing to pursue the criminals to find those responsible for the attack,” Santos told journalists on the sidelines of meetings with regional officials.

“I’ll see if I can speak to President Maduro, to see if we can solve this situation as quickly as possible because innocent people are the ones suffering.”

The 2,219-kilometer (1,379 mile) border shared by the two countries is frequently traversed by smugglers and illegal armed groups.

Reporting by Monica Garcia, Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dominic Evans

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