OAS General Assembly meets in time of crisis

June 2nd, 2008 - 2:33 pm ICT by admin  

Medellin (Colombia), June 2 (DPA) The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) has started its annual gathering with the ongoing crisis between Ecuador and Colombia high on the agenda. The Ecuadorian government at the opening of the meeting Sunday asked OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza to evaluate documents found in computers belonging to the late Colombian rebel leader Raul Reyes.

A cross-border raid into Ecuador by Colombian forces which killed Reyes - the second-in-command of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - and 25 other people March 1 has led to great tension between the two countries.

As he opened the General Assembly meeting late Sunday, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe reiterated his apology for the raid into Ecuadorian territory and requested that neighbours help his country put an end to rebel violence.

“The only thing we want is for you to help us live like you live. We feel envy of the good kind,” Uribe said.

He asked OAS members not to hesitate to call Colombia’s rebel groups “terrorists,” of which he stressed they have ties with the drug trade.

“They went from ideology to being mercenaries, to getting rich through drug trafficking,” Uribe stressed.

In the face of his strong differences with the left-wing governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the conservative Uribe noted that the Americas cannot be divided “between governments of the left and the right.”

In Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Isabel Salvador said she had called upon Insulza to look into the material that was found in Reyes’ computers.

“What we want to do is to prove that we have nothing to hide,” she said.

Among the documents in question, Colombian authorities claim to have found reports of ties between FARC and the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela.

Insulza stressed Sunday that OAS did not intervene in the crisis so far because none of the countries involved asked the organization to get involved.

In her first visit to Colombia since the raid that led the two countries to withdraw their ambassadors in each other’s territory, Salvador made attempts to appear conciliatory and stressed Ecuador’s efforts to fight the drug trade and FARC in its territory.

She stressed that her country has received at least 450,000 Colombians. Of these, 15,000 are refugees and by June 2009 the minister expects the number to be 65,000.

“Ecuador cooperates in the fight against FARC, against all illegal activity, and therefore cooperates with Colombia. Uribe has acknowledged that in the past, nowadays he seems not to know about it,” Salvador said.

She added that she had no plans to meet with Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo - a former hostage of FARC - while in Medellin, and noted that re-establishing diplomatic ties with Colombia is not an end in itself.

“The most important thing is that trust is restored,” she noted.

The OAS General Assembly meeting is set to end Tuesday.

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