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Venezuelan Military Reinforce Border with Colombia བོད་སྐད།


Venezuela's military has moved thousands of troops to its border with Colombia, in response to a Colombian raid on a rebel base inside Ecuador. VOA's Brian Wagner has this report from Miami.

Venezuela's defense minister said troops were in place along the porous border with Colombia and prepared to defend the nation in case of attack. He said the Colombian raid on Saturday inside Ecuador represented a clear act of war by the government of Colombia, acting on behalf of the United States.

The raid killed a senior commander and at least 20 other militants of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

President Hugo Chavez ordered the deployment of some nine-thousand troops on Sunday and warned Venezuela would respond if Colombia tried a similar raid in Venezuela.

On Wednesday, the former paratrooper took a different tone, and said his nation is not seeking an armed conflict.

Mr. Chavez said Venezuela is a peaceful nation and nothing will deter it from the true path of peace.

In Washington, diplomats from Colombia and Ecuador met with other regional leaders at the Organization of American States to negotiate a resolution to the dispute. Colombia has apologized for the cross-border attack, but Ecuador's government says an apology is not enough.

Leaders at the OAS agreed the Colombian raid was a violation of Ecuador's sovereignty, but they did not formally condemn the nation's government. Diplomats also agreed to send a fact-finding mission to the region to study the incident.

Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Isabel Salvador told OAS members her government was satisfied with the decision.

Salvador said they felt safe to live in a region where the rule of law is what governs international relations.

Colombia's ambassador said his government was pleased with the group's efforts to resolve the dispute between two allied states.

Venezuela's government, however, said the 34-nation should have gone further, adding that U.S. policies, including its support for Colombia, were a threat to the entire region.

At the White House, President Bush's press secretary Dana Perino said Venezuela's response to the dispute and its deployment of troops raised questions about the country's intentions.

"We do think it's curious that a country such as Venezuela would be raising the specter of military action against a country who was defending itself against terrorism. I think that says a lot about Venezuela."

Colombia, the United States and Europe consider the FARC to be a terrorist group because it uses violence and kidnapping against civilians.

Colombian officials said Saturday's raid uncovered evidence that shows clear links between Venezuela's government and the rebel group.

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