March 6th, 2008 06:58 EST
Hugo Chavez suggests Trade War with Columbia
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is threatening to end his country`s trade ties with Colombia, in response to last week`s Colombian military raid on a leftist rebel outpost in Ecuador.
Mr. Chavez made the threat Wednesday in Caracas during a joint news conference with Ecuador`s president, Rafael Correa.
The two heads of state have condemned the cross-border attack last Saturday that killed more than 20 Colombian FARC rebels, including FARC commander Raul Reyes. Mr. Chavez sent thousands of Venezuelan troops to Colombia`s border, but said he is not seeking an armed conflict.
The Organization of American States approved a resolution Wednesday calling Colombia`s attack a violation of Ecuador`s sovereignty and international law, but stopped short of condemning the action.
Ecuadorean diplomats welcomed the OAS statement statement that Colombia acted illegally, but Ecuadorean President Correa says he wants the international group to explicitly condemn Bogota for the attack.
Colombian officials have defended the incursion, and President Alvaro Uribe has accused Venezuela of financing and supporting the FARC.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that a military conflict is unlikely, and also noted that Colombia`s military can successfully defend the country.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos says he reached an agreement with his counterparts from Ecuador, Maria Isabel Salvador, and Colombia, Fernando Araujo, to begin negotiations aimed at restoring normal relations.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.