Venezuela denies troop buildup at border, floats peace plan

14:04, July 28, 2010      

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Venezuela said Tuesday it has not reinforced troops in the region bordering Colombia as a feud between the two countries continued to make headlines.

Meanwhile, Colombia confirmed it would attend a regional meeting aimed at solving the dispute but President Alvaro Uribe scoffed at a peace plan that Venezuela has said it will present at the meeting of the region's foreign ministers next week.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ruptured diplomatic ties with Colombia last week after Bogota presented accusations to the Organization of American States (OAS) that some Colombian guerrilla chiefs were in Venezuela. He dismissed Colombia's charges as a lie that could be used as a pretext for a possible U.S.-backed military raid by Colombia.


Chavez has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States in case of such an attack. Reuters had cited Franklin Marquez, a regional military commander, as saying that Venezuela sent about 1,000 troops to reinforce border posts over the weekend.

But the Venezuelan government denied any such reinforcement on Tuesday.

"There has not been any type of reinforcement, no military contingency, and our personnel is the same as we have worked with all year," Marquez said in an official statement.

Venezuela Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, who has been on a tour of seven Latin American countries since Monday, said Tuesday it was possible for Venezuela to restore ties with Colombia if the neighboring country's new president Juan Manuel Santos was "less hostile."

The two countries can "build a new path" if the new Colombian government rectifies its position and shows respect for Venezuela, he said.

Santos, who will succeed Uribe on Aug. 7, is also visiting countries in the region but has not commented on the dispute, although some of his incoming ministers and vice president have voiced hopes for repairing relations with Venezuela, especially in trade.

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