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Latin American nations end crisis with handshake

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/venezuela_colombia_dc;_ylt=An1SACoBGidSW7yF6Elu1w.s0NUE Latin American nations end crisis with handshake By Patrick Markey 1 hour,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2008
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      Latin American nations end crisis with handshake

      By Patrick Markey 1 hour, 37 minutes ago

      SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - The presidents of Colombia,
      Ecuador and Venezuela ended a border dispute on Friday
      with a summit handshake after a week of regional
      diplomacy in the face of troop buildups.

      "And with this ... this incident that has caused so
      much damage (is) resolved," leftist Ecuadorean
      President Rafael Correa said before standing up and
      shaking hands with his U.S.-backed conservative
      Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe.

      The dispute erupted on Saturday when Colombia raided
      inside Ecuador to kill a commander of the
      Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and
      its resolution brought the summit to a surprise ending
      after acrimonious moments, including Correa calling
      Uribe a liar.

      The accord came after Uribe apologized to Correa at
      the summit under pressure from governments across the
      region. Uribe also said he could guarantee Colombia
      would not make similar raids if they cooperated in the
      fight against the FARC.

      Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had blamed the
      United States for the crisis as he sent tanks to the
      border with Colombia, joined in by shaking Uribe's
      hand vigorously, applauding loudly and smiling

      "We are all happy -- we must unite and integrate,"
      Chavez said.

      The handshakes were broadcast live on television
      across Latin America in response to a special request
      from the summit host, Dominican Republic President
      Leonel Fernandez.

      The resolution was a diplomatic victory for Latin
      America, whose governments from Mexico to Brazil
      managed the crisis by emphasizing negotiations and
      took advantage of the previously scheduled summit to
      force the sides to talk.

      Fernandez engineered the end with a public appeal.

      "What all of us would like is for this meeting to end
      with a hug, a handshake, between the presidents of
      Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, together with their
      Latin American counterparts," he said to thunderous

      The end also will resurrect hopes for the release of
      FARC hostages, including a French-Colombian woman and
      three Americans. Chavez had negotiated the freeing of
      six captives in the weeks before the crisis.


      Earlier Uribe and Correa had clashed at the meeting
      with Correa calling the Colombian a liar after he
      accused him of links to the FARC, Latin America's
      oldest insurgency.

      The crisis had spread across the region with leftist
      allies Venezuela and Nicaragua joining Ecuador in
      cutting relations with Colombia, while Venezuela and
      Ecuador sent troops to their borders against the
      strongest U.S. ally in the region.

      With the dispute resolved, Nicaragua restored ties
      with Colombia.

      "Nicaragua reverses the rupture of relations with
      Colombia," Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said.

      "I'll send you the bill for the ambassador's air
      fare," Uribe quipped as he anticipated sending his
      envoy back to Managua.

      Major powers including the United States, France and
      Russia had also called on the leaders to reach a
      negotiated settlement.

      Friday's outcome confirmed predictions from the
      Pentagon to Wall Street that the dispute would not
      escalate into the first military conflict in the
      region since Peru and Ecuador fought briefly over
      their border more than a decade ago.

      (Additional reporting by Manuel Jimenez and Enrique
      Andres Pretel in Santo Domingo and Brian Ellsworth in
      Caracas; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by John
      O'Callaghan and Bill Trott)
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