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By Brian Wagner
Miami
07 March 2008

The presidents of Colombia and Ecuador have again traded charges over a controversial Colombian military strike on rebels inside Ecuador. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the two clashed at a Latin American summit where leaders sought to resolve the dispute.

The dispute between the two South American nations dominated talks between heads of state of the Rio Group in the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe speaks during the opening session of the Rio Group summit in Santo Domingo, 07 Mar 2008
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe speaks during the opening session of the Rio Group summit in Santo Domingo, 07 Mar 2008
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe apologized again for Saturday's cross-border attack that killed more than 20 militants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.

But he criticized the reaction of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa who has called for a formal condemnation against Colombia for violating his nation's sovereignty.

Mr. Uribe said Mr. Correa's claims that the attack was a massacre ignores the reality of the terrorist threat posed by the FARC.

The Colombian leader also made new allegations about links between leftist rebels and Ecuador's government. He said evidence recovered from the cross-border raid suggests that rebels helped finance Mr. Correa's election campaign in 2006.

TV grab of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa during the speech at the plenary session of the XX Rio Group summit in Santo Domingo, 07 Mar 2008
TV grab of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa during the speech at the plenary session of the Rio Group summit in Santo Domingo, 07 Mar 2008
In response, Mr. Correa accused the Colombian president of repeated lies. He also said the Colombian rebel conflict is beginning to affect other countries because Mr. Uribe's government is unable to police the borders.

Mr. Correa said Colombia, not its neighbors, is the source of the problem. He said Ecuador is the victim in this conflict.

Ecuador's president also asked leaders at the 20-nation group to study the creation of a joint security force to patrol Colombia's southern borders where FARC operates.

Ecuador as well as Venezuela and Nicaragua have cut diplomatic ties with Colombia because of the cross-border attack.

 

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