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The BBC's Claire Marshall
"Mr Montesinos is wanted on a number of charges ranging from murder to embezzlement"
 real 28k

Friday, 29 June, 2001, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Peru in diplomatic spat with Venezuela
Vladimiro Montesinos
The row centres on the arrest of Montesinos
Peru has recalled its ambassador to Venezuela in a deepening of the row between the two countries over the arrest of former Peruvian spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar was quoted as saying his country considered itself the victim of a "verbal attack" by the administration of President Hugo Chavez.

We were victims of real verbal aggression

Peruvian Foreign Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar
The move comes a day after Venezuela recalled its ambassador, accusing Lima of "unfriendly behaviour", which it said could undermine regional stability.

The row began when Peru's Interior Minister Antonio Ketin Vidal accused Venezuelan intelligence officers of interrupting a secret joint operation to arrest Mr Montesinos by Peruvian and US agents.

In response, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said: "We are outraged. Venezuela is a sovereign country ... no police organisation can come here and mount an operation behind the back of our government."

Mr Chavez added that he hoped to restore normal diplomatic relations with Peru when the President-elect, Alejandro Toledo, takes office next month.

Web of corruption

Vladimiro Montesinos is currently being held at a maximum security prison in Peru.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
President Chavez denies sheltering Montesinos
He is accused of creating a vast web of corruption during his years as the right-hand man of disgraced former president, Alberto Fujimori.

There has been speculation that the Venezuelan Government was sheltering Mr Montesinos, who in 1992 helped arrange asylum for 93 Venezuelan military officers - associates of Mr Chavez - following an attempted coup.

On Thursday, FBI spokesman, Wayne Russell, said: "It's the FBI's opinion, as well as the Peruvian Government's, that Mr Montesinos was being kept in Venezuelan territory, and it is also our belief that the Venezuelans were aware of that fact long before his arrest."

In his speech, the Venezuelan president angrily denied these accusations, denouncing a shadowy "international conspiracy" to discredit his government as "criminals".

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See also:

26 Jun 01 | Americas
How Montesinos was betrayed
27 Jun 01 | Americas
Montesinos 'knows of 30,000 videos'
26 Oct 00 | Americas
Hunt for Peru spy chief
14 Dec 00 | Americas
Missing spy chief 'has fled Peru'
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