BBC News

Chavez ups pressure on Colombia

Aug 05--Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced trade measures against Colombia, amid a growing diplomatic row between the two nations.

5 de agosto de 2009

Mr Chavez said he would halt the import of 10,000 cars from Colombia and ban a Colombian energy firm from developing Venezuela's oil-rich region.

Last week, Mr Chavez recalled his envoy from Bogota over accusations that Venezuela had sold arms to Farc rebels.

He is angry over Bogota's plans to boost US military presence in Colombia.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is currently visiting Chile and Argentina - on the latest stage of his regional tour to try to reassure South American leaders over the deployment of US troops.

A number of South American nations - including Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia - have expressed concerns over Bogota's plans.
Washington wants to increase its military capabilities in Colombia to counter drug traffickers and left-wing rebels, say analysts.

Speaking at a news conference in Caracas, Mr Chavez said the Venezuelan government would halt the import of 10,000 mainly industrial cars from the neighbouring Colombia.

He also said Colombia's Ecopetrol company would be barred from taking part in an auction to develop the heavy crude in Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco region.

Mr Chavez also said Venezuela would seek to buy "several battalions of Russian tanks" during his visit to Russia in September, reports AP news agency.

"These bases could be the start of a war in South America," the socialist leader told reporters. "We're talking about the Yankees, the most aggressive nation in human history."

Mr Chavez also rebuffed Bogota's accusations that Caracas had been selling weapons to the left-wing Farc rebel group.
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