Sat, Jun 01, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Maduro outraged after ‘betrayal’ by Colombia

AFP, CARACAS

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of betrayal on Thursday after Santos met with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Maduro said he was putting relations with neighboring Colombia under review after Santos met with Capriles at the presidential palace on Wednesday.

“I doubt the sincerity of President Santos, when he stabs Venezuela in the back,” a visibly angered Maduro said during a ceremony broadcast on official television.

Capriles was in Colombia to gather support for his claim that Maduro’s April 14 presidential win — by just 1.5 percentage points — to replace former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was fraudulent. The former Miranda state governor is seeking a recount.

Colombia, which had tense relations with Caracas during most of Chavez’s 14-year rule, has made an effort under Santos to put relations on a friendlier footing while opening peace negotiations with FARC, the country’s largest leftist guerrilla group.

Maduro said he made efforts to achieve peace in Colombia through negotiations with leftist FARC rebels.

“Now they’re going to pay us like this, with betrayal,” he said.

Maduro’s government has threatened to withdraw its support from the peace talks and announced it was recalling its delegate to the meetings in Havana.

Capriles told Colombia’s Blu radio that it was “unacceptable” for Venezuela to try to tell the president of Colombia whom he could meet with at his own presidential palace.

“Peace can never be the subject of blackmail,” he said. “Either you want peace and work toward peace, or you don’t want peace. There can be no middle position.”

Venezuela is a facilitator of Colombian peace talks, which have been under way in Havana since November last year between representatives of FARC and the Santos government.

For years, Venezuela has sympathized with and offered indirect support to the Colombian rebels. Venezuela is also Cuba’s main economic benefactor and a source of badly-needed oil for the island.

The Colombian peace talks are currently in recess, and set to resume on June 11 in Havana.

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