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Venezuela's Chavez Cuts All Diplomatic Relations With Colombia


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he has cut all diplomatic relations with Colombia.

Mr. Chavez said Wednesday that he will not restore relations with his South American neighbor as long as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is in power.

The Venezuelan government said Tuesday that President Chavez had recalled his ambassador to Bogota, Pavel Rondon. Colombia's foreign ministery has so far refused to withdraw the country's ambassador in Caracas.

Earlier today, Mr. Uribe said presidents should put aside their anger and "vanities" when doing their jobs.

President Chavez and his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, have exchanged harsh words in recent days, after Mr. Uribe dropped Mr. Chavez as a mediator in talks to swap prisoners for hostages held by Colombian rebels.

On Sunday, Mr. Chavez said he was freezing relations with Colombia's government. He accused President Uribe of "spitting in Venezuela's face" while he, Mr. Chavez, was working to get Colombia on the road to peace.

Mr. Uribe, in turn, alleged that the Venezuelan leader was not interested in peace but in Colombia becoming the victim of a terrorist government of the FARC rebels - Colombia's main guerrilla group. The FARC Tuesday released a statement saying a hostage deal was not possible under the Uribe government and that Mr. Chavez, was, in the group's words, "the only hope" for an agreement.

Last week, Mr. Uribe said he ended President Chavez's mediation because the Venezuelan leader violated a pledge not to speak directly with the head of Colombia's armed forces, General Mario Montoya.

Colombia had conditionally offered to permit a meeting between Mr. Chavez and the leader of the FARC, if the rebels unilaterally freed a group of hostages and committed to releasing the rest, including three Americans.

The FARC is demanding the release of rebels held in government prisons, in return for freeing 45 hostages, including French - Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and the three Americans. She has not been heard from since 2003.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.

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