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| 8/25/2009 12:00:00 AM

Latin American Leaders Prepare to Squeeze Colombia Over Military Base Deal with U.S

Aug 25--Leaders from a 12-nation bloc of Latin American countries will meet for an extraordinary summit Friday to discuss expanding U.S.-Colombia military ties. The gathering comes amid charges by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez that Washington wants to topple governments and steal the region’s resources.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a U.S. ally, has agreed to attend the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) gathering in Argentina, where he is expected to come under fire from many of those present over the military cooperation agreement.

Uribe on August 14 provisionally consented to allow U.S. forces access to at least seven Colombian military bases in continuing efforts to combat regional drug trafficking. The cooperation agreement also targets “terrorism, illicit smuggling of all types, and humanitarian and natural disasters.”

The plan, which follows the decision by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to eject the U.S. from an airbase in his country, drew immediate opposition from leftist leaders in the region, including Chavez, Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina.
 
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