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FW: Chavez: Colombia and US Plotting Military 'Aggression'

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    ... Chavez: Colombia Plans Aggression By JORGE RUEDA, Associated Press Writer Friday, January 25, 2008 (01-25) 18:27 PST CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2008
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      FW: Chavez: Colombia and US Plotting Military 'Aggression'
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      Chavez: Colombia Plans 'Aggression'

      By JORGE RUEDA, Associated Press Writer

      Friday, January 25, 2008

      (01-25) 18:27 PST CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) --

      President Hugo Chavez on Friday accused neighboring Colombia and the United
      States of plotting a military "aggression" against Venezuela.

      "I accuse the government of Colombia of devising a conspiracy, acting as a
      pawn of the U.S. empire, of devising a military provocation against
      Venezuela," Chavez said.

      "A military aggression is being prepared," Chavez added, saying that
      Washington aims to "oblige us to respond, and later a war could be set off."

      He cited intelligence reports but did not offer evidence to support his
      claim.

      Venezuela and Colombia have been locked in a diplomatic crisis since
      November, when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe ended Chavez's mediation
      role with Colombia's leftist rebels in seeking a hostages-for-prisoners
      swap.

      Chavez warned Colombia not to attempt a "provocation," warning that it would
      trigger a decision by Venezuela to cut off all oil exports.

      "In that scenario, write it down: the price of oil would reach $300, because
      there wouldn't be oil for anyone," Chavez said. "The invaders would have to
      step over our dead bodies."

      Chavez has repeatedly accused Washington of plotting to oust or kill him,
      though it was the first time he has accused Colombia's U.S.-allied
      government in such strident terms.

      He spoke as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Colombia, saying
      she and two other senior American officials who have visited Bogota recently
      "came to attack Venezuela" in their remarks. Rice did not mention Chavez
      during her earlier public statements in Colombia.

      Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, spokesman for Uribe, said his government had no
      immediate comment.

      The trouble between the two countries began in November, when Uribe accused
      Chavez of overstepping his authority by directly contacting Colombia's army
      chief while trying to broker the prisoner swap.

      Chavez responded by freezing contacts with Uribe and calling home the
      Venezuelan ambassador in Bogota for consultations. That ambassador has yet
      to return.

      Chavez has continued his contacts with the rebels, though, and earlier this
      month the largest guerrilla group freed two Colombian women held captive for
      years to Venezuelan officials.

      The Colombian government later reacted with outrage when Chavez urged world
      leaders to stop classifying the rebels as terrorists.

      Chavez said he expects relations with Colombia, which he and Uribe once
      managed to maintain cordial, "are going to continue deteriorating,"
      predicting that it will hurt cross-border trade.

      The tensions have been heightened by Colombian allegations that Chavez's
      government provides refuge to leftist rebels — which Chavez denies.

      Chavez urged Uribe "to tie up his madmen, because he has some madmen loose
      (in his administration) and he's the one who is responsible."

      Chavez said the United States and the Colombian government "don't want peace
      in Colombia because it's the perfect excuse to have thousands of soldiers
      there, the CIA, military bases, spy planes and who knows what other trash
      operations against Venezuela."

      The Venezuelan leader, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, said
      President Bush and his allies "think we are against the ropes, that we're
      weakened right now. Well, be careful."


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