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Page last updated at 23:52 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Colombia frees Venezuelan guards

President Alvaro Uribe (file image from Oct 2009)
The men's release would be a gesture of 'brotherly affection', Mr Uribe said

Colombia has released four members of the Venezuelan national guard who were detained on Colombian territory.

Colombia says they were stopped on Friday by its navy in a boat on a river in the border province of Vichada.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela ruled out dialogue with the Colombian government saying he would not accept outside mediation in the dispute.

The only way to resolve the conflict with Colombia is for the US to withdraw from military bases there, he added.

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe said the troops were being sent home as a message of the "unbreakable affection" between the two countries.

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"They should carry back the message that here there is brotherly affection for Venezuela and that affection is unbreakable," he said.

Earlier this month, President Chavez urged his armed forces to be prepared for possible war.

He said the increased US access to Colombian bases would allow Washington to spy on Venezuela and attack strategic targets.

Venezuela has accused the United States of planning attacks on its territory through a new military agreement with Colombia.

Bogota says the pact is aimed at fighting drug-traffickers and Marxist rebels within Colombia's own borders.



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