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Brazil, Colombia sign defensive pact

Latest update : 2008-07-20

US backed Colombian president Alvaro Uribe has entered into a defensive pact with left-of-centre Brazil, aimed at fighting cocaine-funded Marxist rebels such as the FARC, a huge step forward in regional cooperation.

BOGOTA, July 19 (Reuters) - Colombia's U.S.-backed
president entered into defense pact with the left-of-center
government of Brazil on Saturday, marking a step in regional
cooperation aimed at fighting cocaine-funded Marxist rebels.
 

Conservative President Alvaro Uribe announced the deal in
Bogota during a visit by Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva.
 

The accord stands in stark contrast with Colombia's
diplomatic wrangling with the leftist governments of its other
neighbors, Ecuador and Venezuela.
 

Uribe said Colombia will join the agreement only after
receiving assurances that Marxist rebels fighting a 44-year-old
insurgency in the country will never be allowed to join the
pact, although other governments may participate in the
future.
 

"Given this understanding, Colombia has decided to join the
agreement," said Uribe, whose popularity has shot up to over 90
percent since the July 2 military rescue of rebel-held hostage
Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician.
 

Colombia's relations with it Ecuador and Venezuela have
been troubled over the issue of security. Uribe accuses them of
not doing enough to help Colombia fight the rebels while
Ecuador and Venezuela have portrayed Uribe as a pawn of the
United States.
 

"By inviting Colombia into the agreement, Lula, as a
left-of-center leader, is showing that he understands something
that Ecuador and Venezuela do not: that's what's best for
Colombia is best for the region," said political commentator
Ricardo Avila.
 

The agreement sets the stage for cooperation in military
training, intelligence and weapons procurement. It aims to help
both sides police the border between Brazil and Colombia, an
area that has been known as a haven for drug traffickers.
 

Date created : 2008-07-20

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