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Colombia to finalize talk on base with US

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Colombia says it is close to finalizing talks with Washington over the use of military bases by the US, an arrangement that has sparked opposition in the region.

“With God’s help, this weekend everything will be agreed upon,” said General Freddy Padilla, the Head of the Colombian Armed Forces.

He said a Colombian delegation would travel to Washington to hammer out the final details of the deal, which has been attacked by neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador and criticized by other Latin American leaders.

In Quito, the Ecuadorian military announced the deployment of an additional 1,200 troops to a border province, saying the move was prompted by an increase in smuggling and crime in the area.

Speaking on Monday in Quito at a regional summit, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned that the “winds of war” were beginning to blow in the region because of the accord between Bogota and Washington.

The US’s use of the Colombian facilities was to allow the United States to make up for the loss of its use of Ecuador’s base at Manta.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa decided not to extend the agreement allowing US forces there.

Chavez has led a diplomatic offensive against the agreement in recent weeks, saying he feared the move amounted to preparations for an invasion of his country by a “Yankee military force.”

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