Venezuela denies military buildup along Colombian border

13:32, July 28, 2010      

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks during meeting with Argentine soccer coach and former player Diego Maradona (not pictured) at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, July 22, 2010. (Xinhua)

Venezuela is not beefing up its military presence along its border with Colombia, a government statement said Tuesday amid simmering tensions between the two neighbors.

"There has not been any type of reinforcement, no military contingency, and our personnel is the same as we have worked with all year," the statement quoted Franklin Marquez, a regional commander of the National Guard, as saying.

The denial came a day after Marquez told reporters that about 1,000 troops had arrived over the weekend at the border region as reinforcement and that Venezuelan forces are staying on alert along the over-2,000-km-long frontier.

Venezuela severed diplomatic ties with Colombia last week after the latter accused it of hosting Colombian guerilla chiefs on its soil, a charge Caracas has firmly denied.

The latest row followed on the heels of old tensions already straining bilateral relations. Venezuela has repeatedly said that the close military ties between Colombia and the United States pose a threat to Venezuela and the whole region.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro is now on a seven-nation South America tour to warn about the possibility of Colombia raiding his country and to float a regional peace plan for discussion.

"President (Hugo) Chavez fights for unity. You know we have been going through a very difficult and complex situation in recent days. This tour is to widely inform about the need for a peace plan for South America," he said on Monday.

The Venezuelan plan will be discussed when foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) countries meet on Aug. 5 in Quito, Ecuador, but details of the plan are still unavailable.



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