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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 21:34 GMT
Venezuela troops 'move to border'
Venezuelan troops move towards border with Colombia - 4/3/2008
Colombia's killing of a Farc rebel leader in Ecuador sparked the crisis
Venezuela says most of thousands of troops Venezuela has sent towards the border with Colombia are in place.

There is no independent confirmation of large-scale troop movements and the US said it has seen no evidence of it.

Venezuela ordered troops to the border with Colombia after a Colombian raid into Ecuador to kill Farc rebels. Ecuador has also mobilised troops.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) agreed Colombia violated Ecuador's sovereignty.

But in an emergency session, the OAS stopped short of formally condemning Bogota.

Colombia'a leader says he is not mobilising Colombian troops in response to Venezuela's and Ecuador's deployments.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused Colombia and the United States of wanting war.

"We want peace," he said after speaking to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Rafael Correa in Brasilia - 5 March 2008
I insist on this: Ecuador is ready to go to the ultimate consequences
Rafael Correa
Ecuadorean President

"It must be said: They, the empire and its lackeys, are war," he said of the US and its ally Colombia in a televised speech after his telephone conversation with the French president.

Mr Chavez ordered 10 battalions - usually amounting to at least 6,000 troops - to the border on Sunday after Colombian troops killed senior Farc leader Raul Reyes and at least 16 other rebels.

The move is intended as a deterrent to Colombia, should it consider pursuing guerrillas across the border, says the BBC's James Ingham in Caracas.

'Ultimate consequences'

Both Venezuela and Ecuador have broken off diplomatic ties with Colombia.

Map
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said he wanted the international community to condemn Colombia's actions and for Bogota to apologise for the raid.

"Otherwise we will have to defend ourselves by our own means. I insist on this: Ecuador is ready to go to the ultimate consequences," he said in Brasilia before meeting Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Mr Correa has been visiting Latin American capitals to bolster support for his position.

Latin American governments have criticised Colombia for the raid but have cautioned the three countries not to escalate the crisis.

In his conversation with Mr Chavez, the French president urged "all the countries in the region and all those concerned to show restraint," a spokesman for Mr Sarkozy said.

Senior Farc commander Raul Reyes, file picture
Reyes was Farc's first secretariat member to be killed in combat

Mr Sarkozy also said he hoped the process aimed at freeing about 40 high-profile hostages - including French Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt - would continue.

Farc have released six hostages this year with Venezuelan mediation and turned them over to Mr Chavez, including four Colombians released last week.

On Wednesday, Washington said it was confident the crisis would be resolved peacefully and played down reports of troops movements.

"We do not have independent confirmation of that claim of troop movements down in that area," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

She urged Colombia and Ecuador to reach a peaceful settlement of their dispute without any input from Venezuela.

'Farc link'

Colombia has said it regrets conducting the cross-border raid but that it was necessary "in the fight against terrorism".

It says documents were found that linked both Ecuador and Venezuela to the Colombian rebel group.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said he would not allow his country to be drawn into open war with his neighbours but that his military would target the Farc "wherever they are".

Colombia receives billions of dollars in aid from the US to fight the Farc, which the US and the EU view as a terrorist organisation.

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Colombia is criticised by its neighbours





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