Brazil Tells Colombia About Its Concern Over US Forces in that Country

Presidents Uribe and Lula Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe three day visit to seven South American countries to explain to his peers the extent of the military understanding with Washington had its last stop in Brazil and the meeting with President Lula da Silva, was the most significant of all presidential exchanges.

The Colombia-US arrangement includes deployment of US forces in seven Colombian bases.

Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim said that the Brazil government had expressed "concern over the establishment of US military in Colombian bases" during the "cordial meeting" between presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Uribe.

Amorim also informed that Brazil had proposed "continuing with the dialogue" and called for multilateral cooperation in combating the narcotics trade. "President Lula said that it was important to consolidate the South American Defense Council," indicated the minister.

The South American Defense Council was created precisely on an initiative from Brazil in an attempt to contain US influence in the region on security and military affairs.

President Uribe following the hour long meeting simply sent his regards to the "Brazilian communicators" and thanked the "wide and open" dialogue with President Lula. The Colombian presidential press officer as in the previous meetings said that the meeting had been "positive" and "very important," but when asked for more details recalled that the "lightning round" had been anticipated as the "numb" tour.

The controversy of increasing the number of US forces from 200 to 800, deployed in seven Colombian bases, under Colombian command, triggered a strong reaction from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa. This forced President Uribe to a round of meetings with the other South American presidents.

Actually some of the forces have relocated in Colombia from the Ecuadorian air base in Manta, following President Correa's decision not to grant an extension as the contract comes to an end. Manta was used for narcotics and drug plantations air surveillance.

Earlier in his tour President Uribe met with Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez who reiterated two pillars of Uruguayan foreign policy in international affairs: non interference in internal affairs of states, but also Uruguay's position contrary to the establishment of foreign military bases not only in the country but in any other territory from Latinamerica.

Furthermore President Vazquez called for a peaceful solution to controversies between states.

President Uribe spent the night in Uruguay having flown in late Wednesday with some delay because of the intense fog. Late afternoon Uribe had met with Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo in Asuncion who expressed non interference in other states internal affairs and total respect for sovereign decisions.

Chile and Peru stated their support to Colombia's sovereign decisions while Bolivia's Evo Morales was clearly against US personnel deployed in South America and blasted the Colombian FARC terrorists for helping justify the US military presence in South America.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was also critical, even when respectful of Colombia's sovereign decisions and the principle of non interference in internal affairs of other countries.

However Argentina has always rejected foreign bases and foreign military personnel in the region and in the particular case of the US, Mrs. Kirchner recalled that Washington demands that its forces be exempt from prosecution.

Mercopress

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