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| 8/21/2009 12:00:00 AM

Clinton rebuts Chavez assertions about Colombia pact

Aug 21--The Obama administration is moving closer to a security agreement with Colombia that Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez said would fan "winds of war" in Latin America.

But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, appearing with Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez after their meeting in Washington on Tuesday, stressed that the U.S. will not be establishing bases in Colombia as part of the defense cooperation agreement.
 
"I want to be clear about what this agreement does and does not do," Clinton said. "First, the agreement does not create U.S. bases in Colombia. It does provide the United States access to Colombian bases, but command and control, administration and security will be Colombia’s responsibility, and any U.S. activity will have to be mutually agreed upon in advance. The United States does not have and does not seek bases inside Colombia.

"Second, there will be no significant permanent increase in the U.S. military presence in Colombia," Clinton added. "The congressionally mandated cap on the number of U.S. service members and contractors will remain and will be respected."

The pact, she said, would focus on "working together to meet the challenges posed by narco-traffickers, terrorists and other illegal armed groups in Colombia."
 
Read more here.
 
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