Pastrana denies he authorized Chavez to speak to the FARC

Former Colombian President Andres Pastrana denied on Wednesday that he had authorized Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to meet with the FARC, as Chavez had previously claimed.

Pastrana, president of Colombia from 1998 to 2002, said that the earlier statement from Chavez was simply “not true,” and that “The one with the failing memory is President Chavez.”

On Monday, Chavez admitted that he had met with slain FARC commander Raul Reyes out of a request from Pastrana. “I once received ‘Raul Reyes,‘ in private and in secret in [presidential residency] the Casona. We talked one morning because Andres Pastrana asked me to,” Chavez said.

Pastrana went on to say that, “We’ve always known that Venezuela was participating in the peace process and was collaborating with the twenty-odd countries that were helping us (in the process). But I never gave Chavez authorization to speak with the FARC.”

Colombia’s former peace commissioner Camilio Gomez, who was responsible for peace talks with the FARC during the Pastrana administration, denied on Monday that Colombian government had authorized Chavez to meet with the FARC’s then-number two, ‘Raul Reyes’.

According to Pastrana, Chavez was always interested in participating in talks with the FARC, but that “the only one who has given permission for Chavez to talk with the FARC has been [current] President [Alvaro] Uribe.”

Pastrana admitted, however, that Chavez did have a direct role in collaborating with his administration in the peace-process with the ELN, another left-wing Colombia guerilla movement, but “never with the FARC.”

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