Chavez says no ties with Colombia's Uribe government

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said his administration will have no dealings with Colombia as long as Alvaro Uribe heads the government in Bogota, Spanish news agency EFE reported Thursday.

Chavez says no ties with Colombia's Uribe government
'While President Uribe is president of Colombia I will have no kind of relationship with him or with the government of Colombia. I can't, out of dignity,' he said Wednesday, days after Uribe had called off a mediation bid by Chavez for a prisoner swap with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.

The FARC has been holding more than 40 high-profile hostages, including presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Many of the hostages have been in captivity for more than a decade.

Chavez is set to remain in office until at least 2013. Uribe is not due to step down before 2010, and may be not even after that, as his supporters have floated the idea of a third term for him.

Chavez, however, did not clearly say that he would sever diplomatic relations with Colombia, though he has already recalled the Venezuelan ambassador from Bogota in the wake of Uribe's announcement last week terminating Chavez's mediation.

Colombia has said that it would keep its envoy in Caracas for the time being.

The Venezuelan leader Wednesday denounced what he called US machination behind Uribe's action 'because it was unhappy over the prospect that I (Chavez) may succeed'.

'We were already on the verge of a first step,' Chavez said, maintaining that the chief of FARC rebels, Manuel 'Sureshot' Marulanda, was prepared to hand over some hostages to the Venezuelan president before the end of the year.

Uribe said he was withdrawing Chavez's authorisation to talk to the rebels because the Venezuelan president violated the agreement by speaking directly to members of the Colombian military.

Chavez said in Paris last week that FARC had promised to provide proof that Betancourt and the other hostages were alive.

The FARC, Colombia's largest guerrilla group, was founded in 1964 and today operates across a large swath of the Andean nation. The organization has an estimated 20,000 fighters.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Kasım 2007, 15:38
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