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Venezuelan president accuses US of provoking tensions
Updated: 2005-01-24 13:16

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the United States of provoking a diplomatic crisis between his country and Colombia.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delivers a speech in Caracas, during which he warned he will freeze all ties with Colombia if the government does not admit their agents' error over the capture of Rodrigo Granda. [AFP]

The United States was behind Colombia's arrest of Rodrigo Granda, a commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), on Venezuelan territory last month, Chavez said.

"I know where this provocation comes from: from Washington, not from Bogota!" Chavez told a crowd of cheering supporters.

He also criticized Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for "not having a moment" to address his charges, saying "it is up to the Colombian government to admit to its error."

Thousands of demonstrators joined a march Sunday to show support to Chavez and demanded respect for Venezuela's sovereignty. They rejected any part the United States played in the capture of the rebel leader.

In December last year, Colombian agents snatched Granda in Venezuela and took him to the Colombian territory, according to Venezuela.

On Jan. 14, Chavez froze his country's diplomatic and commercial relations with Colombia and said they will not be resumed until Bogota apologizes for "the abduction of Granada from Venezuela."

After the incident, the US government requested South American countries to press Venezuela to sever its alleged ties with Colombian guerrillas and help solve the dispute between Colombia and Venezuela.

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