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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Colombia says rebels camped in neighboring Ecuador

BOGOTA, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Colombia said on Tuesday it has evidence that Colombian Marxist rebels are camped inside neighboring Ecuador, and asked leftist President Rafael Correa to take action against the drug-running guerrillas.

The two countries are in talks aimed at re-establishing diplomatic ties severed by Ecuador last year after Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe ordered the bombing of a FARC rebel camp on Ecuador's side of the border.

"I will provide precise information to Ecuador about camps the FARC has in the country," Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva told reporters. "We hope that the information will lead to concrete action."

Recent statements from Ecuador saying that it will not tolerate the presence of illegal armed groups are "a very positive sign," Silva added.

Officials in Colombia have long suspected that Correa and Venezuela's leftist leader Hugo Chavez have turned a blind eye to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, whose fighters often have hidden in neighboring countries.

Both socialist governments have expressed concern about Colombia's plan to allow U.S. counter-drug operations to be launched from Colombian air and military bases.

Uribe is popular in Colombia for his U.S.-funded military offensive against the 45-year-old FARC. His hard-line policies have pushed the rebels deeper into rural areas and across the country's porous jungle borders.

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