Venezuela reinforces border troops amid row with Colombia (2)

17:18, July 27, 2010      

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Chavez has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States if his country was attacked by U.S.-backed Colombia.

Venezuela is one of the main suppliers of oil to the United States, but it depends on the export of oil for 90 percent of its export earnings.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro on Monday warned of the possibility of Colombia raiding on his country, as he began a tour of seven South American countries.

Maduro "affirmed that South America is a zone of peace and union, to continue with the liberation project of building the large homeland of Simon Bolivar," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations Valero on Monday voiced hopes for a peaceful end to the tensions between the two countries.

"We hope that the new government of Mr. (Juan Manuel) Santos would change their world policy and join the Venezuelan government to find out a peaceful solution," he said.

Santos was elected president of Colombia on June 21 and was due to take office on Aug. 7.

Analysts have said Venezuela was leaving the door open for the incoming Colombian president to mend bilateral relations.

Santos has so far made no comment on the rows between the Venezuelan president and outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Nevertheless, the incoming finance minister has said one of the new government's priorities will be to re-establish trade. Colombian Vice President-elect Angelino Garzon also said earlier the new Colombian government would seek "all diplomatic means" to normalize ties with Venezuela.

Trade between Venezuela and Colombia has suffered after relations between the two countries turned sour since last year, when bilateral trade grew to 8 billion U.S. dollars from 1.5 billion dollars in 2002.

Colombian Mining and Energy Minister Hernan Martinez said on Monday it will not stop gas supply to Venezuela.

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