Visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who met with President
Alvaro Uribe on Saturday, firmly denied he is supporting leftist
“I repeat it again: if I were supporting any subversive, terrorist
or violent movement in Colombia, I wouldn’t be here,” Chavez told
reporters upon arriving at this Caribbean resort city 1,100 kilometers
(680 miles) north of Bogota.
For years ties have been frosty
between the conservative Uribe, a staunchly pro-US leader, and the
leftist Chavez, a fierce critic of Washington.
with outrage two weeks ago when now US President Barack Obama said in
an interview on Spanish-language television that he was concerned that
Chavez may be supporting Colombian rebels, a charge Chavez regularly
Chavez-Uribe meeting comes six months after the two presidents met in
the Venezuelan city of Punto Fijo, where they discussed the crisis
between Colombia and Venzuela that began in November 2007 when Uribe
abruptly ended Chavez’s role as a mediator in releasing hostages being
held by the FARC guerrillas.
The crisis worsened after Colombian
soldiers in February 2008 raided a remote FARC jungle camp across the
border in Ecuador, killing a guerrilla commander and seizing software
files which they said showed that Chavez supported the rebels.
deployed troops to the border with Colombia in March 2008 and both
countries withdrew their ambassadors. After weeks of heated rhetoric
commerce between Venezuela and Colombia resumed.
Saturday that he was confident trade between the two neighbors could
increase from the current seven billion dollars a year to ten billion. (AFP)