Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez several times to discuss the socialist leader’s order to prepare for war but received no response, Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said Tuesday.
Bermudez said that the “space for dialogue” with Venezuela “is open”.
“We have not closed to the option of maintaining a dialogue with Venezuela,” said Bermudez. The Foreign Minister added that he himself had called his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro.
“We have not had a reply, but we believe that when there are difficulties, what must be done is strengthen relations, not break them,” Caracol Radio reported Bermudez as saying.
Bermudez was alluding to Chavez’s call to his nation last Sunday to “prepare for war”. 15,000 Venezuelan troops have since been sent to “reinforce” the northern border. Colombia announced Tuesday that it would send 12,000 troops to the same border.
The OAS asked the feuding countries on Tuesday to re-establish a dialogue.
Relations between Colombia and Venezuela have frayed following the deterioration of security along the countries’ shared border.
Venezuela sees a military pact signed by the U.S. and Colombia- which grants the U.S. access to seven bases in Colombia – as creating the potential for a U.S. invasion of Venezuela from Colombian territory.
The U. S. and Colombia dismiss the idea, saying cooperation is aimed strictly at fighting drug traffickers and Marxist insurgents within Colombia.
Bermudez defended Colombia’s relationship with the U.S., calling the super power “an important alliance in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism”.
The Foreign Minister underlined the “transparency” with which Colombia had published the military agreement.
Bermudez is in India with the Minister for Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Luis Guillermo Plata. Colombia and India will sign a bilateral agreement for the promotion and protection of investment Tuesday to encourage reciprocal business ventures between the two nations.