Venezuela recalls ambassador from Colombia

Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Colombia Tuesday after relations between the two countries had soured in recent weeks, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Venezuela recalls ambassador from Colombia
Colombia decided on Wednesday to suspend Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's role as a mediator in hostage negotiations with Colombia's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The recall came after Chavez told a Sunday television broadcast that he was putting relations with neighboring Colombia on ice. His Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe publicly replied that Chavez was seeking a rebel government in Bogota.

Chavez has been seeking to strike a humanitarian Accord between the Colombian government and the rebel group including the release of hostages held by the anti-government group, including Ingrid Betan court, a French-Colombian citizen who was kidnapped in 2002 while campaigning for presidency, in exchange for FARC fighters held in Colombian government jails.

However, Chavez was dismissed of his mediation role after the Colombian government said it was angered by Chavez' speaking directly to Colombian generals about the negotiations.

Chavez responded by saying that Uribe was looking for excuses to end the peace process and said Colombia "deserves a better president" while Uribe said Chavez was seeking a rebel government in Bogota.

Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo told media on Tuesday that Colombia will not recall its ambassador from neighboring Venezuela for consultations, although Venezuela has done so to its Colombian representative.

"We are clear about what the Colombian government's interest are and the real enemy is the FARC which takes advantage of these types of spaces to create new ways of fighting. We will continue monitoring the situation in order to take the appropriate decisions," said Araujo.

In Venezuelan capital Caracas Colombian resident rallied on Tuesday outside the Colombian consulate in eastern Caracas against Uribe's decision. Demonstrators called on all Colombia's political parties to sign an agreement backing the Humanitarian Accord, which Chavez had begun helping to negotiate in August.

The demonstrators also called on Uribe to commit to protecting the life of Piedad Cordoba, a left-wing Colombian senator who had also been assisting negotiations, after Colombian government officials described her as having betrayed the nation.

Venezuela is home to around 600,000 Colombians, many of whom are refugees from the nation's 40-year-old internal conflict. Venezuela has legalized the bulk of these refugees, giving them access to health care and education.

Venezuela and Colombia have 2,200 kilometers of shared border and 6 billion U.S. dollars of trade each year, making them among Latin America's most active trade partners.

The presidents of the two country argued nearly three years ago about the capture, in Venezuelan territory, of Rodrigo Granda, who has been identified as the FARC's foreign minister.

Colombia's High Commissioner for Peace Luis Carlos Restrepo has proposed that Granda be the new facilitator for the Humanitarian Accord.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Kasım 2007, 16:14
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