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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ecuador requests meeting with Obama on U.S.-Colombia military deal

QUITO, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorian Defense Minister Javier Ponce requested on Tuesday a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on the U.S. military cooperation agreement signed with Colombia.

Colombia and the United States signed an agreement on Oct. 30 to boost the United States' presence by up to 1,400 people across seven military bases in Colombia to fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, a deal that has prompted objections from Colombia's neighbors.

Neighbors such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela have been criticizing the agreement since it was first discussed in July.

According to Ponce, the agreement says that the military base of Planquero in Colombia "guarantees the operations in all Latin America."

"I think there is enough reason to talk with Obama. The problem is that the proposal of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva did not succeed, possibly it did not find all the necessary support at that moment," Ponce said.

During the Summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) held in Quito in August this year, Lula proposed the organization should have a meeting with Obama for him to explain the range of the military agreement with Colombia.

"The proposal of President Lula is pending and I think we have to insist on that," Ponce said.

Ponce added that the Ecuadorian government had concerns on the military agreement, and urged the defense ministers of the member countries of Unasur to have an urgent meeting to analyze the U.S.-Colombia agreement.

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