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Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 09:43 UK

Colombia denies US base reports

By Mark Doyle
BBC News, Bogota

Jaime Bermudez
Mr Bermudez: Colombian soldiers are the ones who operate best in Colombia

Colombian has sought to reassure other South American countries about its plans to continue military co-operation with the United States.

Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said that contrary to some reports there would be no US bases in the country.

Mr Bermudez told the BBC that Colombia appreciated US help but there was no need for more US military personnel.

He insisted that Colombia desired good relations with all countries in the region, including Venezuela.

Colombia has for many years had close military ties with the United States.

That help had been welcome and effective, Mr Bermudez said, in countering what he called "narco-traffickers and terrorists".

Suspicious

But in many other South American countries there is an instinctive suspicion of the intentions of the US which is sometimes seen as a giant northern neighbour throwing its weight around.

Mr Bermudez said: "We are not going to have American bases in Colombia. Today we have 71 military personnel from the US."

He said the number could possibly increase but this matter was not important.

"We don't need personnel, we need more information, technology, intelligence - that's the key issue.

"Those who fight best in Colombia are our own soldiers. We don't need American soldiers to do this."

Colombia has often had difficult relations with its immediate neighbours, especially Venezuela and its leader, President Hugo Chavez.



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