Venezuela freezes relations with Colombia

Jul 29--Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez froze diplomatic relations with Colombia late Tuesday, citing verbal aggressions from the neighboring South American country.

29 de julio de 2009

The televised announcement followed declarations from the Colombian government Monday that anti-tank weapons purchased by Venezuela ended up in the hands of the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC. In addition, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said the guerrillas were trying to buy anti-aircraft missiles. Venezuela received a shipment of Russian SA-24 Igla shoulder-fired missiles earlier this year and showed them off at military parade in April.

Chavez recalled Venezuela's ambassador to Colombia, as well as most of the embassy's staff.

"Leave only the lowest functionaries," he said.

Chavez also threatened to take over Colombian companies operating in Venezuela if Colombia offends Venezuela one more time.

Colombia's claims are "mistaken," added Chavez, who called the country's leaders "irresponsible."

There was no immediate reaction from the Colombian government.
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