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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

Latin American Leaders End the Ecuador-Colombia Crisis

Colombia reiterates apologies but denies violating Ecuadorian territory 2008-03-08 11:44:06  

    SANTO DOMINGO, March 7 (Xinhua) --

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Friday reiterated his apologies to Ecuador for his country's cross-border attack on FARC rebels, but denied violating Ecuador's territory in the process.

    Attending the 20th Rio Group summit held in Dominican Republic's capital of Santo Domingo, Uribe apologized over the issue again, but denied his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafeal Correa's charge that Colombia violated Ecuador's territory, saying that Colombia had informed Ecuador of the attack.

    Uribe also said the Colombian army bombed a base of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), Colombia's largest rebel group, inside the Ecuadorian territory from Colombia's aerial territory.

    He further defended his government's actions by calling FARC's official spokesman and No. 2 leader Edgar Devia alias Raul Reyes "one of history's gloomiest terrorists".

    Devia and 22 other alleged FARC guerrilla troops were killed in the Colombian government's military attack in Ecuadorian territory on March 1.

    To protest the incident, Ecuador sent troops to the border and broke off diplomatic ties with Colombia on Monday.

    The incident also prompted Venezuela to close its embassy in Colombia.

    On Thursday, Nicaragua broke off its relations with Colombia, demanding Rio Group to strongly condemn Colombia.

Latin American leaders shake off diplomatic crisis 2008-03-08 06:38:12  

    SANTO DOMINGO, March 7 (Xinhua) --

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said on Friday that the diplomatic crisis with Colombia, triggered by its cross-border raid on rebel groups operating in Ecuador, has ended with a shake of hands by the leaders.

    At a Rio Group summit that concluded here on Friday, Correa and the Dominican Republic's President Leonel Fernandez shook hands with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

    Later on, Uribe shook hands with his Venezuelan and Nicaraguan counterparts Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega.

    Ecuador severed diplomatic ties with Colombia earlier this week following Colombia's cross-border raid on rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which killed 21 people, including FARC's No. 2 Edgar Devia, better known by his alias Raul Reyes.

    The raid ignited regional tensions as Ecuador and Venezuela have sent troops to their borders with Colombia.

    The tensions took center stage at the summit while the issues foreseen for the meeting -- energy, natural disasters and development -- were not discussed.

    In the six-hour session, Fernandez told Uribe that many heads of state at the summit agreed to condemn Colombia's military operation, but all agreed that they wanted to help.

    Fernandez openly invited Chavez, Correa and Uribe to shake hands to end the conflict.

    Correa and Uribe accepted Fernandez's proposal and he accepted Uribe's apologies.

    But Uribe refused to make a commitment to Ortega, whose country has a long-standing maritime boundary dispute with Colombia, over Nicaragua's claim on San Andres islands, which is being attended by the Hague Court.

    Uribe said he will accept the Hague Court's final decision.


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