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Page last updated at 06:22 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 07:22 UK

Venezuela returns Colombia envoy

President Hugo Chavez 7.8.09
President Chavez is a strong opponent of Colombia's ties with the US

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he is sending his ambassador back to Colombia following a diplomatic row.

Mr Chavez recalled Ambassador Gustavo Marquez last week after Colombia said rocket launchers found in a rebel camp came from Venezuela.

Relations between the two countries are also tense over Colombia's plans to allow US troops on its military bases.

Mr Chavez has said he fears the move amounts to preparation for an invasion of his country by US forces

"Go back to Bogota, Gustavo. Go to work, and you have a lot of it," President Chavez told Mr Marquez during a televised meeting at the presidential palace.

"We certainly don't have in our plans a break-up of our relations with Colombia," he added.

Weapons found

Mr Chavez withdrew his ambassador on 29 July after the Colombia government said weapons bought by Venezuela from Sweden in the 1980s had ended up with Colombian Farc guerrillas.

The Venezuelan leader denied the claim and accused Colombia of acting "irresponsibly".

In March last year, President Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia and recalled his ambassador following a cross-border attack by the Colombian military on a group of Farc rebels on Ecuadorean territory.

The action triggered one of the worst diplomatic disputes in the region since the end of the Cold War.

Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe has just returned from a tour of South American nations, in which he has tried to allay fears over his plans for US troops to use military bases inside Colombia.

The US wants to use Colombia as a regional hub for operations against drug-trafficking and terrorism.

Washington has been forced to look for a new base after Ecuador refused to renew the lease on its Manta base, which the US military was using.



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