Los Angeles Times

Venezuela pulls ambassador

Jul 29--Chavez recalls the envoy after Bogota said weapons sold to Caracas ended up with Colombian rebels.

29 de julio de 2009

President Hugo Chavez recalled his ambassador to Colombia on Tuesday after the neighboring country said antitank weapons found in a rebel arms cache came from Venezuela.

Chavez also said he would sever diplomatic ties and seize control of Colombian-owned businesses in his country "if there's one more accusation against Venezuela."

Relations between the two South American nations have been rocky in recent years. The fiery Venezuelan leader recently criticized a pending deal to increase the U.S. military presence in Colombia, which has accused Chavez of helping leftist rebels there. Chavez is a strong critic of U.S. influence in Latin America.

Over the weekend, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said antitank rocket launchers that Sweden sold to Venezuela in the 1980s had ended up in the hands of Colombia's main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Sweden confirmed that the weapons originally were sold to Venezuela's military.

Chavez accused Colombia of acting irresponsibly in making the accusation, saying there was no evidence that Venezuela was the source of the weapons.

"We are not going to accept this irresponsibility," the socialist leader said.

In Bogota, the Colombian Foreign Ministry said Uribe was traveling abroad and would have no comment until he returned.
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