Sunday, July 6, 2008

Uribe eases tensions with Venezuela

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe pledged closer ties with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez on Saturday after months of on-and-off tensions, but Ecuador's leftist president said problems remain and he isn't ready to re-establish relations with Colombia.

Uribe said Colombia is accepting a proposal by Chavez to jointly build railroad lines between their countries, and is ready to sign accords on the trains when the two meet in Caracas on Friday.

"President Chavez has proposed it and we accept it," Uribe said during a televised town hall meeting. "We want to give a very big push to the entire agenda between our two countries."

It will be their first one-on-one talks since the Colombian military's March 1 cross-border strike in Ecuador that killed a rebel leader and created a diplomatic crisis among the Andean neighbors.

Venezuela's leftist leader and the U.S.-allied Uribe later deescalated tensions. But Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Saturday that Uribe's attitude toward Ecuador hasn't changed to warrant restoring ties.

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