Chávez eases rhetoric ahead of summit

Por Venezuela Real - 7 de Marzo, 2008, 17:00, Categoría: Prensa Internacional

Miami Herald
March 07, 2007

The leaders of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela gathered Friday for a crucial summit in the Dominican Republic as the usually fiery Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said the time had come to cool tempers.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Chávez were in Santo Domingo for the 20th Summit of the Rio Group, which brings together 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The three countries have been locked in a bitter diplomatic confrontation after a weekend Colombian attack against a FARC guerrilla base in Ecuador, killing a top Colombian guerrilla commander. Venezuela and Ecuador rushed troops to their borders with Colombia and denounced Uribe for violating Ecuador's sovereignty.

The conservative Uribe attempted to take the focus of the tensions away from the ideological differences that separate him from the left-wing Chávez and Correa. ''Our problem is with the FARC,'' he told reporters, according to the Associated Press.

The meeting in the Dominican Republic, which had been planned long before the South American tri-border crisis escalated into a diplomatic firestorm, is seen as an occasion at which leaders can begin to mend fences ahead of an Organization of American States mission to the area where the attack occurred.

Chávez appeared in a conciliatory mood, saying he expected the meeting to be ``positive.''

''We have to debate, talk, that is the first step toward finding a way out,'' he said.

''People must cool off a little,'' the normally outspoken Chávez added. ``Nerves must be calmed.''

However, Chávez could not resist a jab at Uribe. ''Colombia is intervened by the United States,'' he said.

The Rio summit's purpose is mainly to discuss energy and natural disaster-related issues, and leaders were considering mentioning the Andean crisis in their final statement, the AP reported.

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