Celso Amorim, Brazil's Foreign Affairs minister is sounding the alarm that relations between the United States and Latin America are deteriorating and called on American president Barack Obama to begin a dialogue with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
"It's possible that when President Obama concentrates on the region's problems relations between United States and South America will have deteriorated, let's us hope it does not happen," said Amorim in a Sunday interview with Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo.
"Maybe President Obama is too absorbed with Iraq and Afghanistan and that impedes him to concentrate in other issues," added Amorim.
The Brazilian minister insisted that the core issue of relations between the US and South America is the deployment of US forces in seven Colombian bases following on an agreement recently signed between the administration of President Obama and Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe.
"I believe the US should act with more frankness towards the region. President Lula proposed President Obama a meeting to address the issue (of US personnel in Colombian bases) but he did not accept," said Amorim.
"These bases have triggered concern," because the agreement "contains ambiguities, not only does it refer to combating the drugs trade, it also mentions threats to peace and democracy," underlined Amorim who then asked, "who defines what are threats to democracy."
Regarding Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez statements calling on the military and the civilian population to prepare for war with Colombia, Amorim argued that the Venezuelan leader "back stepped on the statement and one thing is to talk about war, a word which should not be used, and another is the practical and objective issue of the bases in Colombia."
"Venezuela might have certain rivalry with Colombia, but Venezuela does not feel threatened by Colombia, but by the United States," said Amorim, so that is why "it is most recommended a direct dialogue between United States and Venezuela," which will contribute to defuse tensions in the region.
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