Mon, Dec 19, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Uribe admits anti-Chavez plot planned in Colombia

AFP , SANTA MARTA, COLOMBIA

Venezuelan former soldiers plotted against President Hugo Chavez's government at a Colombian military building, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said.

Uribe made the stunning disclosure on Saturday at the Caribbean resort town of Santa Marta where he is meeting with Chavez, and after analyzing documents furnished by Chavez.

"The Venezuelan soldiers who are in Bogota went to a building to meet with members of the Colombian military. President Chavez gave us these documents ... we analyzed them and this morning I said to President Chavez: `I must tell you the truth: this is a building of Colombia's public forces,'" he said.

Uribe said that intelligence efforts against the Venezuelan government are conducted in the building, and took full responsibility for the affair.

The two presidents met for six hours amid a climate of unusual goodwill on Saturday to discuss the purported Bogota-based conspiracy against the Venezuelan president, which Chavez first disclosed to his Colombian counterpart during a meeting in Venezuela on Nov. 24.

Seven Venezuelans involved in a 48-hour coup against Chavez in April 2002 have been linked to the new plot. Businessman Pedro Carmona, leader of the failed military-civilian coup, enjoys political asylum in Colombia, where he is working as a university professor.

Uribe refused asylum to six Venezuelan soldiers involved in the coup but gave them permission to live in Colombia while they look for safe haven in another country.

He said on Saturday that he takes responsibility for the events.

"I took responsibility before President Chavez and I took it in public, because the government of Colombia, which suffers from terrorism, cannot permit anyone to plot conspiracies, especially against a brother country," he said.

Chavez, a leftist, in turn underscored that he would support any Colombian peace process, in an apparent effort to counter critics' allegations that he supports leftist Colombian rebels.

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