VARIOUS: Venezuela mobilizes troops to Colombia border; U.S. tells Venezuela to stay out
- Title: VARIOUS: Venezuela mobilizes troops to Colombia border; U.S. tells Venezuela to stay out
- Date: 6th March 2008
- Summary: (W5) ARAUCA, COLOMBIA (MARCH 5, 2008) (REUTERS) ARAUCA STREET SCENES AND PEOPLE IN THE STREET/ PEOPLE ON SCOOTERS
- Reuters ID: LVA42BCLEL510QBARG3V9U3SYNZY
- Duration: 00:00:08
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: International Relations,Defence / Military
- Story Text: Venezuela launches troop mobilization towards its border Colombia; U.S.
says it has no confirmation of troop movements and plays down fear of military conflict; Ecuador's president lobbies for support in Brazil.
Venezuela said it deployed tanks and air and sea forces towards the Colombian border on Wednesday (March 5) in its first major military mobilization of a crisis raising fears for regional stability.
"The Armed Forces have begun to mobilize 10 battalions and the elements of support that includes towards the western border. The execution of the operation is in progress with all corresponding security measures. The decisions made were in response to the specific threats against our country following the aggression and violation on the Ecuadorean territory by Colombia's military, directed by agents from the North American empire,"
said Venezuela's Minister of Defence, General Gustavo Rangel on Wednesday.
Venezuelan broadcaster RCTV on Wednesday showed pictures it said were from Lara of troop movements, including jets and military vehicles. Reuters witnesses in several border areas saw no sign of extra forces. Nor did other Venezuelan media show any images of a larger mobilization.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa demanded that the Organization of American States (OAS) take a firm stand against Colombia for its raid on a rebel camp inside Ecuador.
Correa was speaking after meeting Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as part of a trip through Latin American countries to win support in the dispute, which has escalated into the most serious regional spat in years.
"We had to break relations not with a brotherly nation like our Colombian brothers and sisters, but with a government - with a government that doesn't deserve any credibility and that has lied and lied and lied over and over again and who wants war, not peace," Correa told reporters following the meeting.
The White House on Wednesday said Colombia and Ecuador should work out their tensions without the involvement of Venezuela. It also said it had no confirmation of stepped-up military deployment.
"Too premature to say. We do not have independent confirmation of troop movements in that area. We think it is curious that Venezuela would be raising the spectre of military action against a country that was protecting itself from terrorism," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates played down fears of a military conflict.
"Well first of all, my personal view that there is relatively little likelihood of a military conflict between them and my further impression is that the Colombians can take care of themselves," said Gates.
The action escalated tensions over Colombia's weekend raid inside another South American neighbor, Ecuador, to kill rebels in an operation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an ally of leftist Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, says could spark war.
With governments worldwide urging the nations to defuse tensions, Colombia has said it will not deploy extra forces to its frontiers in response.
On Wednesday, Ecuadorean forces continued massing along the border with Colombian, organizing weaponry and convoys.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has backed Chavez's mediation this year to free hostages held by Colombian rebels, spoke with the Venezuelan leader and urged him to show restraint.
"I come from a conversation this morning with the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. He has called, worried about the situation that has been produced by the violation of the Colombian government has made over the sovereignty of the brother country of Ecuador and all that this has generated.
We have explained to the world, I told the president, my good friend, Nicolas Sarkozy, that we are a peaceful nation and peaceful people. We want peace.
True peace," said Chavez at a public event.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Wednesday attended a mass for peace in Bogota.
Meanwhile on the Colombian side of the border in Arauca, it was business as usual on Wednesday with little sign of increased tensions or a military build-up on either side of the border.
Despite the brinkmanship and risk of military missteps, political analysts said a military conflict was unlikely, especially as governments focused on diplomacy.
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