Colombia urges Venezuela to co-operate

The Colombian ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Alfonso Hoyos said that Colombia is not interested in penalizing Venezuela for the alleged guerrilla presence within its borders, but instead seeks to open bilateral dialogue with the socialist nation on the fight against terrorism.

“What interests us, rather than any kind of conviction against the government of Venezuela, is that the government of Venezuela co-operate” the diplomat told Caracol Radio.

“The purpose of raising this claim is that the countries of the region understand that this is not a political battle but a proven fact” Hoyos said.

On Thursday the ambassador will meet with the body’s Permanent Council to present a report detailing allegations of FARC and ELN presence in Venezuela.

Hoyos stressed that the report provides “clear and recent” information obtained by the government. The compiled dossier to be presented at Thursday’s session includes ten videos, twelve testimonies from demobilized guerrillas, as well as more than twenty photographs and various co-ordinates of rebel camps.

Hoyos expressed regret that Colombia had received co-operation from all its neighbouring countries except Venezuela

“Unfortunately, in the case of Venezuela, despite all the information that has been collected and all requests for co-operation, co-operation has not been possible,” the ambassador said.

The Colombian government claims that it has satellite photos, videos and intelligence from rebel deserters that provesseveral commanders are living in Venezuela, including FARC leader “Ivan Marquez.” Several ELN leaders are also alleged to be hiding out close to Colombian border city of Villa del Rosario.

The Venezuelan government has always vehemently denied allegations that guerrillas are hiding in its territory.

Caracas has labelled the evidence “a pathetic media show,” with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claiming that this is a last ditch attempt on the part of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to sabotage the incoming Colombian government’s relations with Venezuela.

On Friday, the country’s ambassador in Bogota, Gustavo Marquez was recalled for consultation.

Venezuela broke diplomatic relations all together in 2009, after Colombia signed a pact that grants the U.S. military access to seven Colombian army bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez views the pact as an attempt to undermine regional sovereignty.

In the government dossier it is emphasised that any exchange of information between the neighbouring countries ceased after 2007 due to “the absence of a response to requirements” from Venezuela.

“We believe that the situation would be greatly helped by Venezuela’s co-operation.” said Hoyos, ” It is the obligation of governments to deal with crime, arms trafficking, drug trafficking and kidnapping.”

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