(AFP) – Jul 28, 2009
CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Tuesday his decision to "freeze" relations with neighboring Colombia and recall his envoy over accusations from Bogota that Caracas has links to Colombia's FARC Marxist guerillas.
"In view of this new aggression by the government of Colombia I have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador to Bogota," Chavez said on state television.
"We will freeze relations with Colombia," the leftist leader added.
Tensions have risen dramatically in recent weeks between Caracas and Bogota, notably over Colombia's announcement that it had agreed to a new pact with Venezuela's regional nemesis the United States to allow it to use three military bases to conduct anti-drug operations.
And on Monday, Bogota said it had captured weapons from FARC -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Latin America's oldest and largest insurgency -- that had been produced in Sweden and sold to Venezuela.
Officials in Stockholm confirmed that some arms produced in Sweden and sold to Venezuela were found in a FARC camp in Colombia, and the Swedish government called on Caracas to explain how the weapons wound up in the hands of the rebels.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Caracas would respond "at the appropriate time" to the "new lies" being leveled at Chavez's government.
Maduro said Colombia was trying to "place the blame on foreigners" for a conflict "that the authorities in Bogota have the responsibility to resolve."
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