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Colombia blaming inaction for raid

Associated Press
Published March 7, 2008


BOGOTA, Colombia - Defending his nation's raid on neighboring Ecuador, Colombia's president says he repeatedly asked that nation's leadership to deal with Colombian rebels operating from its territory before he ordered the cross-border raid that has set off an international crisis.

The fallout is mounting: Venezuela threatened to slash trade and nationalize Colombian-owned businesses. Venezuela and Ecuador sent troops to their borders with Colombia. And on Thursday, Nicaragua broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia.

Latin American foreign ministers met in the Dominican Republic in hopes of finding a way to calm the region's most tense flare-up in years, and the presidents of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and at least nine other nations were flying in to join them.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe expressed frustration at what he called inaction by Ecuador's leftist government over Colombian guerrilla camps in its territory.

"What does one do when bandits are shooting from the other side and the government doesn't do anything?" Uribe asked. "It's my job to defend 43-million Colombians."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has said his troops have raided dozens of rebel camps, but Colombian officials say the guerrillas are tipped off.

Uribe refused to rule out more military incursions into Ecuador or Venezuela.

But Uribe stressed that he doesn't want war with any of his neighbors.

[Last modified March 7, 2008, 01:42:27]

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