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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Colombia-Ecuador spat continues

The Colombian raid on a rebel camp inside Ecuador sparked the diplomatic row [EPA]

From Al Jazeera, June 25, 2008

Colombia has postponed the restoration of diplomatic ties with Ecuador because of what it called "aggressive" remarks by Rafeal Correa, Ecuador's president.

Correa had told an Argentinian newspaper that his government would demand that a Colombian attack "be fully clarified", and said that "the bombs [used] were American."

Ecuador broke off ties with Colombia following a Colombian raid on a Farc rebel base inside Ecuador on March 1 and relations between the two have since been frosty.

The countries were set to renew ties this week at the level of charges d'affaires in a deal brokered by Jimmy Carter, the former US president.

But Fernando Araujo, the Colombian foreign minister, said on Tuesday that Colombia had "decided to postpone this rapprochement in the hope that the attitude of the government of Ecuador, and especially that of President Correa, becomes a friendly one".

"We don't feel comfortable re-establishing ties amid such aggressive statements from President Correa."

Ecuadorean threat

The Ecuadorean government responded by threatening to impose trade sanctions on Colombia.

"After this latest non-fulfilment of promises ... by Colombia, the government of Ecuador has decided not to renew relations with this country," said Maria Isabel Salvador, the Ecuadorean foreign minister, in Quito.

"If the situation does not improve, above all in Colombia's position toward Ecuador, we don't rule out the possibilities of imposing trade restrictions," she said.

Correa and his government have repeatedly denounced Colombia for the raid that killed a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia senior leader and 24 other people.

They have bitterly denied Colombian allegations that documents found on computers at the rebel camp showed the rebels had at least tried to help finance Correa's presidential campaign.

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