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Venezuela recalls ambassador in Colombia

Tuesday, November 27th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Venezuela recalled on Tuesday its ambassador to Colombia for consultations following a harsh exchange of words between the presidents of both countries. The Venezuelan government said it was carrying out an “exhaustive evaluation of its relationship” with Colombia.

The dispute began last week when Colombia ended Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's involvement in hostage negotiations with the FARC rebel group. The Venezuelan foreign ministry issued a brief statement saying it had called back its ambassador to Bogota, Pavel Rondon, "with the aim of overseeing an exhaustive evaluation of bilateral relations". An official with the foreign ministry said that Rondon has been in Caracas since Saturday. Colombia's foreign minister, Fernando Araujo, however, said that his government will not order its ambassador to return home and said the dispute was with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, rather than Venezuela. "The enemy of the Colombian people is the FARC," Araujo told a press conference. The neighboring Andean countries share billions of dollars of trade and a 2.000 kilometers border. Their leaders until now had maintained friendly relations despite sharply different ideologies. Uribe kicked the leftist Chavez out of talks with the FARC, last Wednesday, complaining that the Venezuelan leader spoke directly with the head of Colombia's army despite a direct order from Uribe not to do so. Chavez said Sunday he was putting relations with Colombia "in the freezer," called Uribe a "liar" and accused him of "not wanting peace." Hours later, Uribe said that Chavez had an "expansionist project" for Latin America and seemed to want that "Colombia be the victim of a terrorist government of the FARC". The FARC holds some 46 high-profile hostages, including three U.S. defense contractors and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, which they say they will release in exchange for hundreds of imprisoned guerrillas. Uribe invited Chavez to help mediate a solution back in August. Colombia, which has received billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to fight a decades' long leftist insurgency and the world's largest cocaine industry, is Washington's closest ally in South America. While Chavez has rarely passed up an opportunity to take a shot at the U.S. government he calls an "empire".

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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