the new york times

Colombia President, on South America Tour, Defends U.S. Military Role

Aug 10--President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia wrapped up a seven-country tour of South America this week seeking to calm skeptical neighbors about a proposal to allow an increased American military presence in Colombian territory.

On Thursday, Mr. Uribe met for more than two hours here with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who requested guarantees from Mr. Uribe that the military cooperation with the United States would not spill over Colombia’s borders, Celso Amorim, Brazil’s foreign minister, told reporters.

Mr. Uribe took to the road on his diplomatic offensive this week after some countries — including Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua — denounced the plans to allow for increased American troop levels. Others, like Brazil, expressed concern about the agreement, which Colombian and American officials insisted would only extend and formalize a continuing counternarcotics program between the countries.

The concerns — and Mr. Uribe’s hastily organized diplomatic road show — underscore contrasting views about threats to the region’s security. For the Colombian president, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, remain the primordial threat, not only to Colombia but to the entire region, said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a research group in Washington.
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