The Unasur (Union of South American Nations) extraordinary summit to address the US forces in Colombian bases controversy, and which was agreed in Ecuador, will take place in Bariloche at the end of the month announced the Argentine presidency.
“We must rebuild the possibility of putting dialogue back in course”, said Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who contacted her peers from Unasur to confirm the date, August 28th and place of the meeting.
“Without dialogue there can’t be an agreement”, she insisted.
The summit will convene the twelve South American leaders including Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe who is at the heart of the heated controversy over his decision to accept the increase of US forces numbers in seven Colombian bases.
“Uribe agreed to participate and did so in good spirit and willingness”, revealed Argentine Executive sources. Uribe missed the Unasur Quito summit but completed a round of talks with seven presidents before the meeting which was unable to agree on a declaration condemning Colombia on the US military forces.
During his round of meetings Uribe explained details and extent of the agreement with Washington for increasing the number of US troops from 200 to 800, and deploying sophisticated surveillance equipment to track drug cartels and guerrilla movements.
Last Monday’s Unasur summit in Quito was divided on the Colombian issue with Peru, Chile, Paraguay and Brazil respecting the Bogotá government sovereign decisions.
But Argentina and Ecuador proposed an extraordinary meeting to address the controversy which Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez considers a US plan to increase interference in South America, and, he said, “could lead to a regional war”.
Apparently Unasur is also planning that the Bariloche summit should help agree on holding a meeting with US president Barack Obama during the September United Nations General Assembly.
However according to the Colombian press President Uribe said he would gladly be present at Bariloche but also demanded that the agenda include, “illegal traffic of arms in the region; military assistance accords of other countries with Colombian neighbours and support for illegal armed Colombian groups”.
Furthermore Colombia apparently is ready to sign the agreement with the US and for this purpose a delegation of representatives and experts from the ministries of Defence, Interior and Justice, and Foreign Affairs travelled to Washington.
“With God’s help everything will be ready over the weekend for the bureaucratic processing, respecting the countries’ sovereignty and then signing”, said Freddy Padilla commander of Colombian military forces.
Padilla made the statement during a visit with members of the Colombian Congress to the military base of Palanquero, in mid Colombia, and the one which US military are most interested in given its strategic location.
The top military officer also revealed that the US Congress earmarked 46 million US dollars in the defence budget to upgrade landing facilities in Palanquero, located in the geographical centre of Colombia.
“We’ve agreed on 99%, so once it is signed only a few administrative steps are needed which have already been agreed by both governments”, added Padilla.
“The agreement with the US is simply to reinforce what we have been doing”, said Colombian Defence minister Gabriel Silva.