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Colombia, Venezuela recall ambassadors over border tensions

Colombia and Venezuela have recalled their ambassadors for consultations amid the escalation of border tensions between the two South American countries.

On Thursday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced his decision to recall the country’s ambassador from Venezuela after Caracas refused to allow a Colombian official to visit a border town that was the site of an attack on a Venezuelan military patrol last week.

Following the incident, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of the country’s border with Colombia, declaring a 60-day state of emergency in parts of the frontier as tensions were running high in the region.

Colombia has censured Caracas for closing the border, urging cooperation between the two countries to contain the threat of armed gangs and smugglers.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (R) shakes hands with a man at a shelter for the Colombian migrants who fled Venezuela following a border conflict, in Cucuta, Colombia, August 26, 2015. (Photo by AFP)


Colombia wants the world to know “what had happened, because it was totally unacceptable,” said Santos in reference to Venezuela’s indefinite extension of the border closure, calling for an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) foreign ministers to discuss the issue.

Shortly after Colombia recalled its ambassador, Venezuela also recalled its ambassador to Bogota for consultations.

“Following instructions from @NicolasMaduro, we have recalled our ambassador to Colombia, Ivan Rincon,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez wrote in a Twitter post.

Reports say that Venezuela has deported hundreds of Colombian migrants over the conflict, while 6,000 people also left the restive area voluntarily amid the escalation of tensions.

Colombians leaving Venezuela with their belongings cross the bordering Tachira River to arrive in Cucuta, Colombia, August 27, 2015. (Photo by AFP)


Colombian Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo lashed out at Caracas for the mass eviction of Colombian migrants, saying the decision has resulted in “a humanitarian tragedy.”

On August 19, unidentified assailants launched an attack against the Venezuelan soldiers who were performing an anti-smuggling operation in the city of San Antonio in Tachira State, leaving four people injured.

The 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) border between the two South American countries is rife with guerrilla and smuggling activities.


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