Uribe disallows verbal attacks against Venezuela

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Colombia’s President Álvaro Uribe on Tuesday disavowed any aggressive statement against Venezuela, at a time when the relations between the two countries are going through the worst diplomatic crisis in recent history.

Uribe’s statements came a day after his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez presided over a military parade in a frontier zone in which he repeated his complaint that an attack on his country is being planned from Colombia, with the support of the United States.

The Colombian ruler’s remarks came also after a report by Colombia’s Defense Ministry warned that Bogotá needed to buy deterrent military equipment to defend its sovereignty vis-à-vis territorial expansionist threats from neighbors, Reuters reported.

“Our message at all times has to be a message of affection to the brotherly people of Venezuela. The President of the Republic does disavow any statement intended as retaliatory, with a spirit of international war, this country does not allow that,” Uribe told Radio Nacional.

“Our only goal is to defeat a domestic problem of terrorism,” the president explained.

Although Uribe and his staff have been cautious amid the crisis with Caracas, recently Colombia’s Defense Minister Gabriel Silva ironically responded to a complaint by Chávez on a spy plane allegedly violating Venezuela’s airspace.

Silva said that Venezuelan troops mistaken Santa’s sleigh with a spy plane.

“I do not authorize, and I say it very clearly, as long as I am the president, the country can not have a strategy, a discourse of international aggression,” said Uribe.

The diplomatic crisis arose in July because of Uribe’s decision to sign a military agreement with the US under which US troops are allowed to use seven military bases in Colombia for operations against drug trafficking and terrorism.

Chávez, a strong critic of Washington in the region, denounced the alleged US intention to install a platform from Colombia to invade his country.

The current diplomatic row between Bogotá and Caracas is viewed as the worst since 1987, when the two countries, which share a land border of 2,219 kilometers, were at the brink of war after a war ship from Colombia was intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy in a disputed maritime border.

During the current diplomatic spat, which has hit bilateral trade, Colombians have been murdered in Venezuela, the two countries have exchanged accusations of espionage, Colombian and Venezuelan enforcement officials have been arrested in both countries, and bridges have been knocked down on the border.

Despite the tensions, Chávez denied on Monday that modern weaponry recently purchased from Russia is intended for war with Colombia, as some analysts fear.


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