Colombia deal hits drug routes

Aug 26--US military aircraft will soon be taking off from more Colombian bases in the war against drugs and Marxist rebels but they are causing friction in Latin America where US President Barack Obama wants better ties.

Allies Colombia and the United States are close to a deal allowing the US military more access to at least seven bases as part of the joint campaign against cocaine traffickers and guerrillas waging Latin America's oldest insurgency.

Leftists in the region, led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, have blasted the plan as an "imperialist" aggression, raising tensions and threatening trade in the northern Andes.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe already had difficult ties with the leftist leaders in the region and the plan for a greater US military presence has sparked a new crisis.

Chavez, a standard-bearer for anti-US sentiment in Latin America, briefly recalled his ambassador from Colombia, cut off cheap fuel supplies and has sought to reduce imports from his Andean neighbor as part of the spat.
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