Colombia-US air base deal 'close'

Jul 16--Colombia's government says it is close to sealing an agreement with Washington to make Colombia a hub for US anti-drug operations in South America.

16 de julio de 2009

he deal would give the US access to air bases in Colombia to gather intelligence and support operations against drugs production and terrorism.

Colombian officials have rejected accusations that the deal would infringe the country's sovereignty.

Colombia is the biggest recipient of US military aid in the Americas.

The US was forced to look for a new centre for regional operations after Ecuador refused to renew the lease on its military base of Manta.

Ecuador's left-wing president Rafael Correa, a political ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has said he would rather "cut off his arm" than allow the Americans to stay on at Manta.
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