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Venezuela Sends Troops to Colombian Border

Venezuelan military officials say they have now sent almost 6,000 soldiers to the country's border with Colombia.

The military said about 90 percent of its deployment to the border is complete. On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered ten battalions to the border following an attack by Colombian forces on FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels inside Ecuador.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa also ordered troops to his country's border with Colombia. In Brazil Wednesday, where he was to meet with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mr. Correa called for international condemnation of the Colombian raid.

Meanwhile, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Spain is trying to mediate the conflict between former Spanish colonies. He said he had reached an agreement with his Ecuadorian and Colombian counterparts, Maria Isabel Salvador and Fernando Araujo, to begin negotiations aimed at restoring normal relations.

In Washington Tuesday for an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Isabel Salvador accused Colombia of perpetrating a "planned and premeditated violation" of Ecuador's sovereignty.

Colombia's representative to the OAS, Camilo Ospina, acknowledged that Colombian military helicopters entered Ecuador's territory last week. He apologized to Ecuador but defended the incursion.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has accused his Venezuelan counterpart of financing and supporting the FARC.

Colombia, the United States and the European Union have labeled the FARC a terrorist group.

One of the rebels killed in the raid was Raul Reyes, a spokesman and leader of FARC.

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

 

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