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Colombia Says It Will Not Be Provoked by Venezuela


Colombian President Alvaro Uribe says his country will not be provoked into a confrontation with neighboring Venezuela despite Venezuela's dynamiting of two cross-border pedestrian bridges.

President Uribe made the comment Friday, one day after Venezuelan soldiers blew up the suspension bridges that crossed into Colombia's Norte de Santander province.

In an interview with Colombia's RCN radio, Mr. Uribe said his country will not make gestures of war toward Venezuela, which he described as "our brother." He said Colombia's goal is defeating terrorism.

Venezuela says the bridges were built illegally and used by smugglers. But, Colombian officials have said they will denounce the incident before the United Nations Security Council, and the Organization of American States.

The border between the two countries has long been a source of friction. Last month, the bullet-riddled bodies of several men, most of them Colombians, were found on the Venezuelan side. Venezuela said the men were mainly Colombian paramilitaries.

Venezuela also closed its border crossings recently after officials blamed Colombian paramilitaries for killing two Venezuelan soldiers.

Separately, relations have been tense since Bogota signed a military agreement allowing U.S. forces to use Colombian bases for anti-drug operations.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called the deal a threat to regional stability, but the United States and Colombia say the agreement does not pertain to other Latin American countries.

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