Venezuela has recalled its ambassador to Colombia following Colombia's allegation that leaders of outlawed rebel groups are hiding in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan foreign ministry rejected Colombia's claims Friday, calling them a new attempt by President Alvaro Uribe to destroy relations between the two countries. The ministry accused Colombia of "lies, aggression and disrespect" against Venezuela, and said Venezuela will take "firm" political and diplomatic measures if the situation continues.
Mr. Uribe's office said Thursday it had proof that four leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and one leader from the National Liberation Army (or ELN) were in Venezuela. FARC leader Ivan Marquez was among those named.
The dispute comes as President Uribe prepares to step down next month after two terms in office. Mr. Uribe has had tense relations with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for years, but his elected successor, Juan Manuel Santos, has recently sought to improve relations with neighboring countries.
In 2008, Venezuela and Ecuador broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after Colombian troops raided a FARC rebel camp in Ecuador, killing FARC commander Raul Reyes and at least 20 other people.
Colombia previously has accused Venezuela of financing and supporting the FARC, a charge Venezuela denies..
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.