Colombia pledges no more cross-border raids on rebels

WASHINGTON — After 14 hours of debate, the Organization of American States approved on Tuesday — with U.S. misgivings — a resolution that rejected Colombia's March 1 bombing raid on a guerilla camp inside Ecuador.

The resolution seeks to settle an 18-day diplomatic crisis over a the incursion, in which 25 persons died, including one Colombian soldier, several Mexican citizens and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and pledges countries to combat lawless groups within there borders.

In a footnote, the United States said it supported "this resolution's effort to build confidence between Colombia and Ecuador to address the underlying crisis.''

But it said the resolution did not take into account other treaties that give a country a right to self defense.

The incident led to troop mobilizations by Ecuador and Venezuela and the region's most serious crisis in more than a decade. Tensions eased after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a firm U.S. ally, struck a handshake deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa at a March 8 Rio Group leaders summit in the Dominican Republic.

The OAS meeting was viewed as an occasion to enshrine those commitments in writing at the hemisphere's premier conflict-solving institution. But this proved hard as diplomats struggled to draft a text that satisfied both Colombia and U.S. desires for countries to act against armed groups and Ecuador's insistance that the incursion be condemned in strong terms.

It wasn't until after 1 a.m. that the OAS announced a deal.

In the resolution, Colombia pledges that its action "would not be repeated under any circumstances.'' The resolution also commits countries to "to combat threats to security caused by the actions of irregular groups or criminal organizations, especially those associated with drug trafficking.''

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza is instructed to establish mechanisms to better monitor the common border.

The raid was a military success for Colombia. Raul Reyes, the FARC's No. 2 leader, died and several computers, hard discs and USB drives produced an intelligence treasure trove, suggesting links between the guerrilla group and the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador were deeper than previously believed.

The Ecuadoreans say Colombia is manipulating the media with selective leaks of information gleaned from the computers.

The Ecuadorean foreign minister, Maria Isabel Salvador, said the text was "a resounding triumph of truth.''

Colombia's foreign minister, Fernando AraÑjo, told journalists his country had managed to secure a pledge by its neigbors "in the fight against criminals, against insurgents and against terrorists,'' according to Agence-France Presse.