The United States should talk to South American countries who have concerns over its military pact with Colombia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday.
“It doesn’t matter who the messenger is. What matters is the way of the dialogue, the discussion … because we have a lot of doubts about the bases in Colombia and there is a lot of evidence that these are war bases, not for an internal war, but an international war,” Chavez said in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, where he is attending the inauguration of his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales.
Chavez was responding to reports that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may attend a UNASUR summit to explain the U.S. point of view on the bases, and the tensions they have caused in the region.
“I hope a dialogue, understanding and the elimination of all factors that are disturbing peace on the continent is possible. We want South America to be a continent of peace. There is a lot to do: health, education, the fight against poverty, economic development. That is a war we want to fight together,” Chavez said.
The pact between the U.S. and Colombia met with criticism from all South American countries. Venezuela, the U.S.’s fiercest critic on the continent, considers the pact a theat to national security and has made steps to block his country’s US$7 billion trade with Colombia, while enforcing border security.