Page last updated at 22:41 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Colombia denies Venezuela's claims of spy drones

US drone
Colombia says it does not have access to US spy drones

Colombia has denied spying on Venezuela using an unmanned drone aircraft built with US technology.

The allegation was made on Sunday by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.

He claimed the drone aircraft flew over a Venezuelan military base "a few days ago" and took a number of photographs, before disappearing.

But the Colombian defence minister said his country had no access to drones - and joked that perhaps Venezuelan soldiers saw Santa's sleigh instead.

In his weekly television and radio programme, President Chavez said he had ordered any planes to be shot down.

The two countries have been involved in a diplomatic row over Colombia's decision to grant the US access to its military bases.

At the weekend, the Colombian government announced it is building a new military base on its border with Venezuela and has activated six new airborne battalions.

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