Santos: We will never fire at Venezuela nor Ecuador

Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday that he would never fire at Venezuela or Ecuador and asked those countries’ head of State not to interfere in the Colombian presidential elections.

“We are a people that want to have good relations with our Venezuelan and Ecuadorean brothers,” the Partido de la U candidate said.

Santos concilatory comments follow more inflammatory ones he made during a live to air presidential debate Tuesday.

“Presidents [Rafael] Correa and [Hugo] Chavez want to derail my path to the presidency,” the former defense minsiter said of the Ecuadorean and Venezuelan heads of State.

Santos also denounced what he called the “meddling of Ecuadorean justice” in Colombia’s presidential elections, after an Ecuadorean judge issued a warrant for his arrest, for his responsibility in a 2008 Colombian military incursion onto Ecuadorean soil in pursuit of guerrillas. The raid resulted in the death of FARC leader “Raul Reyes” and caused Ecuador to sever diplomatic relations with Colombia, claiming infringement of sovereignty by the Colombian army.

The two Andean nations had been working at restoring ties when comments by Santos during a presidential debate resparked the conflict.

After Santos expressed pride over his role in the raid and did not rule out a repeat attack, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa bit back, citing another raid as a potential “causus belli,” a reason to go to war.

Colombia has said that the incident is the State’s responsibility, not a personal one, and Santos is therefore not culpable. Colombia also maintains that Ecuador does not have the jurisdiction to try Santos.

Ecuador countered Wednesday that the matter is a “legal issue” that needs to be handled by the Ecuadorian judicial system.

Correa has said that if Santos were to be elected president, he would be “a danger not just to Ecuador but to the whole region.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez concurrs, calling Santos a “wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood,” whose potential election threatens regional peace.

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