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Clinton Hopeful About Colombia-Venezuela Accord


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she hopes the agreement by the leaders of Colombia and Venezuela announced Tuesday will settle all issues between the South American rivals. Clinton discussed the accord Wednesday with Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman.

Argentina played a key role in brokering the deal between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his newly-installed Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos. And Clinton is making clear she hopes it ends the long cycle of disputes between them.

At a joint press event in Washington with Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, Clinton had warm praise for Buenos Aires' crisis diplomacy, led by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

"The United States appreciates the constructive, positive role that Argentina is playing in encouraging a peaceful resolution of the issues between Colombia and Venezuela," she said. "And we will continue to support those efforts. As I told the minister in our meeting, we hope that this outreach by President Santos and the reception by President Chavez leads to some positive resolution of the long-standing issues."

Venezuela severed relations with Colombia last month, after former President Alvaro Uribe accused Venezuela of harboring left-wing Colombian FARC guerrillas.

But at Tuesday's meeting, only days after Mr. Santos assumed office, the two presidents agreed to restore ties and step up security along their border to prevent guerillas and drug gangs from using the jungle region for hideouts.

Foreign Minister Timerman, on his first Washington visit since assuming the Cabinet post in June, said the impetus for reconciliation came in a meeting between Presidents Santos and Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires.

"That was where, in fact, the outline of this dialogue took place," he said. "And you can see the results; that two days into his presidency, he [Mr. Santos] has held this meeting, which has achieved what we hope will be the beginning of a good relationship between the both countries or the end of the bad relationship between both countries."

Timerman, an editor and human rights advocate exiled during Argentina's military dictatorship, hailed U.S. opposition to military rule and said his first visit to the State Department, in 1978, was to ask for political asylum.

Clinton, who visited Argentina in March, praised that country's role in Haiti earthquake relief and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

She said the United States continues to support Argentina's pursuit of justice in 1990's terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a Jewish center which Buenos Aires blames on Iran.

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