Outgoing Uribe regrets estranged ties with Colombia's neighbors

15:01, July 28, 2010      

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Outgoing President Alvaro Uribe Tuesday took the blame for estranged relations with Colombia's neighbors during his tenure, asking his countrymen for forgiveness.

"Please forgive those impasses I have caused, because I have to put the interests of the homeland above all," said Uribe, who will hand over power on Aug. 7 to successor Juan Manuel Santos.

During his two terms in office, Colombia had tense relations with Venezuela and Ecuador, both of which have severed ties with Bogota.

"I always cause upsets abroad and sometimes at home. I have not been able to manage it as well as I would like to. That is without causing troubles, I would not have protected the interests of the country," Uribe told local media.

Quito severed diplomatic ties with Colombia in March 2008 following a raid by the Colombian military on rebel camps in Ecuadorian territory, which left 20 dead.

The incident has also sparked tensions with Venezuela and other neighboring countries. Caracas "frozed" relations with Colombia in August 2009.

Venezuela broke off ties with Colombia last week, bringing the countries' troubled relations to a new low after Bogota accused the Venezuelan government of harboring Colombian guerilla chiefs.



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