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Unasur Summit discusses US-Colombia military agreement

Brazilian President Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva claimed to have talked to US President Barack Obama after discussing with his Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe the issue of military bases in Colombia. The Brazilian Head of State promised to propose a meeting between the US Government and Unasur in order to clarify the issue of cooperation

South American leaders pose for a group photo at the end of the summit of the Union of South American Nations in Bariloche, Argentina (Photo: Eduardo Di Baia / AP)

Western Hemisphere
August 24

The US will not attend Unasur summit

The United States government will not attend the summit of the South American Union of Nations (Unasur) this week in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, where the US-Colombia military agreement will be discussed.

A spokesperson from the US State Department told Efe that his country "is not a member of Unasur" and "has no plans of sending any representative" to the summit of South American leaders, convened expressly to debate the controversy emerged because of the military agreement signed by Washington and Bogota.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva proposed last Friday, August 21 in a phone call with US President Barack Obama a meeting with Unasur's leaders.

Colombia wants to confer in Unasur about weapon purchase from third countries
Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermúdez on Monday, August 24 following a meeting with his Chilean counterpart Mariano Fernández, stated that Colombia wants to deal with the weapon purchases and cooperation agreements with third countries, during the summit of the South American Union of Nations (Unasur) this week in Argentina.

"(During the Unasur summit), we would like the (leaders of the) region to discuss openly the purchase of weapons from third countries, terror and drug traffic in the region, as well as cooperation agreements with third countries," said Bermúdez during his official visit to Chile.

August 27

Chávez claims that Colombia-US military agreement aims at finishing with Unasur

A military agreement entered into by the United States and Colombia forms part of "a political and military plot to do away with the Unasur project," Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez denounced in a letter published on Thursday, August 27 in an Argentinean daily newspaper.

"It is part of a political and military plot to finish off the project of the Union of South American nations," Chávez said with regard to the Colombian license on the use by the US government of seven military bases. The move has unleashed a wave of tensions in the region, AFP quoted.

"The US Empire has launched an anti-historical, retrograde counteroffensive in order to reverse union, sovereignty and democracy in our hemisphere and try to restore the imperial dominance in all the fields of the life of our societies," warned Chávez in a note posted on newspaper Página /12.

August 28

Uribe: Unasur cannot ignore the effects of terrorism and drug traffic

Terrorism, arms traffic and drug traffic cause serious troubles in South America, which "cannot be ignored," and require governments to join efforts, said Colombian President Álvaro Uribe prior to the opening of the Unasur summit in Bariloche, Argentina.

"Arms traffic, drug traffic, which is ultimately the largest means of support of terrorism, form part of the security projects that cannot be disregarded within integration processes," Uribe told Colombian journalists in Bariloche, on Thursday, August 27, Efe reported.

Uribe arrived in the Argentinean southern resort to take part in the extraordinary summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) convened to assess an agreement entered into by Colombia and the United States on the use by US troops of up to seven military bases in Colombian territory.

Unasur extraordinary summit begins
The extraordinary summit of the Heads of State of Union of South American Nations (Unasur), intended to assess a military agreement recently entered into by the governments of Colombia and the United States, started on Friday, August 28 in the Argentinean city of Bariloche.

Argentinean President Cristina Fernández opened the meeting acting as the guest, Efe reported.

Deliberations followed a number of bilateral meetings aimed at relax the strained environment prior to the summit attended by the presidents of all the member states, except for Guyana.

Colombian president not to waive agreement with the US
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe told on Friday, August 28 his counterparts of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), held in Bariloche, Argentina, that he will not reverse a military agreement with the United States, despite criticism of some countries in the region.

"Colombia is not to waive its sovereignty; it is governed by the principle of territorial integrity of States. The US access to help Colombia fight narco-terrorism is an access without Colombia waiving sovereignty over a millimeter of its territory," said Uribe.

"Article 3 of this agreement (Unasur) states that this agreement cannot be used for meddling in internal affairs of other States," stressed the Colombian Head of State when refusing the criticism of his security policy, DPA quoted.

Uribe also made an appeal to widen up the debate on the issue of "terrorism and drug traffic, supply of weapons to terrorist groups and joint responsibility in the fight against terrorism and illegal drugs."

Chávez, Correa ask Uribe to produce agreement with the US
Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Rafael Correa of Ecuador asked on Friday their Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe to submit for their consideration an agreement reached with the United States on the use of Colombian military bases.

"Mr. President Uribe would rather forward to us the text of the agreement," said Correa, the pro-tempore president of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), after listening to Uribe's allegations in defense of the deal with Washington.

Chávez also took the floor and agreed on the need for Uribe to submit the whole document or "disclose it in order to clarify so many doubts and riddles, at least for Venezuela," Efe quoted.

Urgent meeting with Obama comes up
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa suggested on Friday that he Defense Council of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) should analyze a report prepared by the United States on military strategy and then call "an urgent meeting with (US) President (Barack) Obama."

For his part, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez disclosed at the Unasur extraordinary summit of Heads of State, held in the Argentinean city of Bariloche, the contents of a report entitled "South American strategy. The white book. Air Mobility Command."

According to him, the report was prepared earlier this year by the US armed forces, DPA quoted.

"I am very worried and cannot accept that a US paper treats us as the backyard. I would like to propose a first decision at this extraordinary meeting: to strongly recommend the Defense Council to submit to us a report and, based on that report, to ask an urgent meeting with President Obama," said Correa, the pro-tempore president of the South American scheme.

Lula recommends Obama meeting with Unasur
Brazilian President Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva claimed to have talked to US President Barack Obama after discussing with his Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe the issue of military bases in Colombia.

The Brazilian Head of State promised to propose a meeting between the US Government and Unasur in order to clarify the issue of cooperation.

"It would be very important after the successful experience of this meeting that we could, at the G-20 or the United Nations, hold a meeting with President Obama to ascertain the US-Latin American relation," said Lula when taking the floor at the extraordinary summit of the Union of South American Nations held in Argentina.
Uribe: Colombia is different from the arms-oriented countries
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe clarified that a paper read over by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, presumably referred to a US military strategy on South America, is a public proposal from an academic group which was not abridged by the US State.

He said that, unlike countries with an approach of strategic arms race, of defense before the international community, of preparedness to face the attacks from foreign countries or to attack foreign countries, the Colombian approach is all the way around.

"The only approach taken by Colombia is managing to solve this internal problem. We do not play games of hypothetical wars with neighbors. I would like also to clarify this."

"On many occasions, (Venezuela's) President (Hugo) Chávez has said that at any time he will turn on the Sukhoi planes and in a few seconds they would land in Colombia. We have suffered continued verbal threats on attacks. I would beg to put on the balance these documents and these verbal threats. We have never made a verbal or actual threat," said Uribe.

Chávez proposes "peace initiative" for Colombia
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Friday suggested the presidents of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) to organize a committee intended to envisage a "peace initiative" for Colombia, and stressed Venezuela's commitment to regional integration.

"We would like to propose Unasur -even though we know this is not an easy endeavor- to appoint a committee that starts to outline what we may term a peace initiative for Colombia," Chávez said during the special summit of Unasur taking place in Bariloche, Argentina, Efe reported.

Chávez comments came after his Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe accused the Venezuelan government of "advocating" leaders of the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

Unasur vows to design a strategy of confidence and security
The special summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) ended on Friday with a declaration urging the Defense Council of the organization to devise strategies to encourage confidence and security in the region.

The final declaration instructs the ministers of defense and foreign affairs to design such security strategy and guarantees for the region during a meeting of the Defense Council to be held next September.

"Such mechanisms shall provide the principles of unconditional respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability, and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other States," stressed the declaration approved by the rulers.

US says report disclosed by Chávez in Unasur summit is not "a strategic plan"
The United States on Friday claimed that the document Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez unveiled during the special summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) is a report by the US Air Force about emergency and humanitarian aid plans and that the text does not include US strategies or policies.

"This is not a plan of strategies or policies," a US State Department spokesman told Efe. Reference was made to the report that, according to Chávez, outlines the US plan to deploy a US base for counternarcotics operations and "mobility" in South America.

According to the US State Department, the report is a White Book of the Air Force that assesses options for transportation and aircraft stops worldwide.

"This is an assessment of options for global transportation for emergency and humanitarian aid," the spokesman added.

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