Politics & Government

OAS stalled on Colombia-Venezuela talks

WASHINGTON — Foreign ministers of 34 Western Hemisphere nations grappled Monday with a resolution that would settle a two-week crisis between Colombia and Ecuador over a cross-border military raid.

The meeting at the Organization of American States is likely to endorse the recommendations contained in a report by a five-member commission that investigated the March 1 incident, diplomats say.

But OAS negotiators struggled with the specifics, including whether Colombia should be condemned for violating Ecuador's sovereignty, as Ecuador is demanding.

After hours of backroom negotiations, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza told foreign ministers that ''about half a dozen'' issues were still unresolved and that talks would continue into the night. A deadline to resume the public session at 7:30 p.m. came and went.

The military incursion prompted Ecuador and Venezuela to break diplomatic ties with Colombia.

Venezuela has since reestablished diplomatic ties with Colombia, while Ecuador says it wants the OAS first to condemn the raid, something diplomats say is unlikely to occur as most nations urge both countries to focus on forward-looking solutions to the border problems, according to diplomats familiar with the talks.

The OAS commission, headed by Insulza, issued its report on the incident that killed 24 people in a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, camp in Ecuador.

The commission recommended that the two countries restore diplomatic relations and reactivate a ``political consultation mechanism.''

It also recommended follow-up mechanisms to verify commitments on border issues and explore the possibility of a bilateral early warning system.

Colombia complained that Venezuela and Ecuador were not acting against FARC guerrillas that took refuge on their sides of the border. The raid killed Raúl Reyes, the FARC's No. 2 leader, and Colombian security forces seized three computers, three USB-drives and three hard discs.

The evidence suggests Ecuador and Venezuela had closer ties to the FARC than previously believed, including possible financial support by Venezuela to the guerrilla group.

Venezuela foreign minister Nicolás Maduro called the meetings ''an exercise in profound brotherhood'' and that if terrorism cooperation was the issue, then the United States ought to be investigated for its acts.

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