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Brazilian president says trust solution to Colombian base worries

October 20th, 2009

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

The Brazilian president on Monday presented the visiting Colombian president with a potential solution to South American worries about U.S. military access to Colombian bases.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe that South American leaders could solve their problems through mutual trust.

“I think that everything will be better if we respect each country’s sovereignty,” Lula said.

“When the bases have been established, I have shown my worries, talked to Uribe and (U.S. President Barack) Obama, and I trusted them when they said the bases are to solve Colombia’s internal problems,” he said.

The Brazilian president also said he promoted South American integration, and since the democratic experience in South American countries was very recent, that experience must be strengthened.

“The great opportunity for South America is to have peace, democracy and trust in each other,” Lula said. “I hope that all the leaders understand this and forget about 19th-century conflicts.”

South American leaders meeting in August at a special summit lashed out at Colombia and the United States over their agreement that gives Washington access to seven military bases in Colombia.

During the summit, the South American leaders unanimously agreed to a vague consensus: No foreign military force should be allowed to threaten the sovereignty of a South American nation.

The issue was raised again at a South American Defense Council meeting, which yielded no agreement.

The Brazilian president proposed that the summit attendants share all information regarding their military agreements with foreign countries to help forge the mutual trust needed for a solution to worries over the Colombian military bases.

When asked if Colombia would guarantee that its military bases would not be used for actions outside Colombia, Uribe said his country’s “historic tradition” toward neighboring countries already demonstrated such a guarantee.

“Colombia has never been an offensive country,” Uribe said. “What happens is that we have to deal with an internal problem of terrorism.

“There is no inconvenience to Colombia to do whatever is necessary to exclude any suspicion. We expect to approve a security agreement soon. Our desire is to build solid trust,” he said

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