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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 23:17 GMT
Venezuela recalls Colombia envoy
Hugo Chavez (25 November 2007)
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez accused the Colombian president of lying
Venezuela has recalled its ambassador to Colombia for consultations following a harsh exchange of words between the presidents of both countries.

The Venezuelan government said it was carrying out an "exhaustive evaluation of its relationship" with Colombia.

But Colombia said it would not follow suit and withdraw its envoy in Caracas.

The dispute began last week when Colombia ended Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's involvement in hostage negotiations with the Farc rebel group.

Mr Chavez called the decision a "spit in the face" and froze bilateral ties.

The Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, responded by accusing his counterpart of not being interested in promoting peace in Colombia and wanting the country to "be a victim of a Farc terrorist government".

'Recent developments'

In a brief statement, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said the order to recall its ambassador to Bogota, Pavel Rondon, had been taken "because of recent developments".

The ministry added that it would be carrying out "an exhaustive evaluation of bilateral relations" in which Mr Rondon would be involved.

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, due to recent developments and in order to carry out an exhaustive evaluation of bilateral relations, has recalled its ambassador from Bogota
Venezuela Foreign Ministry

Colombia's foreign minister said the country's ambassador to Venezuela would remain in Caracas.

But Fernando Araujo said he would be "monitoring the situation to see what happens", reported Reuters news agency.

On Sunday, President Chavez said he had decided to freeze relations with his country's second-largest trading partner because he had "completely lost confidence with everyone in the Colombian government".

Mr Chavez accused the Colombian president of "lying in a shameless way" when he said last week that Mr Chavez's involvement in the hostage negotiations had been "terminated" because he had spoken directly to Colombia's army chief despite being told not to do so.

The Venezuelan leader said Mr Uribe had lied about the reason for the failure of the talks in order to avoid seeking a peaceful solution to the 40-year-long armed conflict with the Farc.

Mr Uribe responded promptly by accusing Mr Chavez of not being interested in promoting peace in Colombia and insisting Venezuela had expansionist plans that he would resist.

On Thursday, relatives of the those being held by the Farc protested against the end of Mr Chavez's involvement in the negotiations which would have seen 45 hostages handed over in exchange for the release of 500 imprisoned guerrillas.

Past spat

The bilateral dispute is the worst since Mr Chavez recalled Venezuela's ambassador in 2005, after Colombia paid for a Farc leader to be captured in Caracas and bought back to Colombia for arrest.

Mr Chavez is under pressure at home, as polls show he could lose a referendum on Sunday.

He is seeking permission to reform the constitution to allow him to seek indefinite re-election.

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