Venezuela: 'US trying to spread violence in region'

Venezuela on Tuesday accused the United States of trying to spread violence in the Andean region after a U.S. official said left-wing Colombian rebels were hiding in Venezuelan territory.

Venezuela: 'US trying to spread violence in region'
Colombia and the United States have long claimed Venezuela is not doing enough to combat Marxist FARC fighters waging Latin America's longest insurgency. The rebels are also deeply involved in drug trafficking.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte on Monday urged Venezuela to crack down on rebels hiding on its side of the border.

Venezuela's government called Negroponte's statement "irresponsible and abusive".

"There is an operation underway and we want to denounce it," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told reporters. "The government of the United States is directly responsible for this operation, which is intended to fill our region with violence."

Maduro, speaking at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Medellin, Colombia, said Venezuela has not offered sanctuary to rebels who have been fighting the Colombian state for four decades.

Colombia, which has received $5.5 billion in mostly military aid from the United States over the last seven years, shares a 1,390-mile (2,237-km) border with Venezuela.

Tensions between the neighboring countries increased after a Colombian military raid into Ecuador in March which killed a top rebel commander, Raul Reyes.

Colombia is Washington's closest ally in South America while Correa and Chavez are critics of U.S. policy. Colombia's war often spills over into neighboring countries.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2008, 15:36
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