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Nicaragua breaks off diplomatic ties with Colombia

Latest update : 2008-03-07

The announcement comes as the Rio Group convenes in the Dominican Republic, bringing together Presidents Chavez, Uribe and Correa. (Report: P.Hall)

MANAGUA, March 6 (Reuters) - Nicaragua broke off diplomatic
ties with Colombia on Thursday, widening a Latin American
crisis over a raid by Colombia on a rebel camp inside Ecuador
last Saturday.

Venezuela and Ecuador have also cut relations with Colombia
and sent troops to their frontiers with the U.S.-backed state
in reaction to the cross-border raid, which prompted leftist
allies in Latin America to line up against Colombia.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, an ex-guerrilla whose
country is in a territorial dispute with Colombia, said he was
breaking off relations "in solidarity" with Ecuadorean
President Rafael Correa, who was visiting Managua.

Ortega's move strengthened the leftist alliance that has
formed around Ecuador and Venezuela and left their neighbor,
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, increasingly isolated and
under pressure to apologize.

"We are breaking with the terrorist politics that Alvaro
Uribe's government is employing," Ortega said.

Mexico has been relatively quiet about the crisis but may
be drawn into the fray as Ecuador's government said it was
investigating whether Mexicans were among the more than 20 dead
in the FARC camp.

The leaders of Colombia and Ecuador and other presidents
from the region were heading on Thursday to a summit of Latin
American leaders in the Dominican Republic where the Andean
crisis would be center stage.

Ecuador's Correa hopes to win an explicit condemnation
there against Colombia, which has the backing of U.S. President
George W. Bush and receives billions of dollars of U.S. aid for
fighting guerrillas and the cocaine trade.

"We have to make decisions ... to clearly condemn the
Colombian aggression and make sure this government never again
dares to attack a brother country," Correa said.


Earlier this week, the United States helped block moves at
the Organization of American States for a formal condemnation
of Colombia. Instead, the diplomatic body noted that Colombia
had broken international law by violating Ecuador's

At the summit, Uribe hopes to persuade leaders he had to
act against the rebel FARC because Ecuador allows the
guerrillas to take refuge there.

Uribe, who is popular at home because of his hard line
against the FARC, also accuses Chavez of supporting the
guerrillas, who have killed and kidnapped thousands in their
four-decades insurgency.

Colombia says documents and photos found on computers at
the bombed rebel camp prove Ecuador and Colombia were
supporting the Marxist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia, or FARC.

Anti-U.S. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is also expected
to travel to the Dominican Republic.

"Never before has any country in Latin America reached the
point of taking a pre-emptive attack doctrine or the doctrine
of pursuing your internal enemies in every corner of the
globe," he said on Thursday in his latest criticism of

Chavez, who says socialism can unite South America against
what he calls "U.S. imperialism," jumped into the dispute
during the weekend, warning war could break out.

With governments worldwide, including the United States and
Russia, calling for a negotiated solution, Colombia played down
worries the dispute could escalate into what would be the first
military conflict between Latin America nations in more than a

"I don't think there is a risk of war. The Colombian
government has been very clear it won't use force," Colombian
Vice President Francisco Santos told Reuters during a visit to
Brussels for talks with EU officials.

"It won't fall into the game of provocation."

Date created : 2008-03-06