Menendez And Dodd On Colombian Border Situation: Diplomatic Surge Needed To Ease Tensions

Menendez And Dodd On Colombian Border Situation: Diplomatic Surge Needed To Ease Tensions

Senators say they plan to engage the Organization of American States on matter

Washington - As tensions in South America persist following the movement of Ecuadorian and Venezuelan troops to the Colombian border, two members of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee who are prominent on Latin American issues today called for increased diplomacy in the region. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection, and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Peace Corps, and Narcotics Affairs, said that they plan on engaging the Organization of the American States on this issue this week.

Senator Menendez said: "Instead of an abrupt break in diplomatic relations within the region, this situation calls for increased diplomacy, increased communication and increased mediation to ease the tensions," said Senator Menendez. "This is certainly a tense and dangerous situation, and the chance that the countries involved might overreact to developments is heightened in the absence of diplomacy. Hugo Chavez seems eager to make himself more relevant than he should be by provoking confrontation, and his best chance to succeed is if the lines of communication are cut. We hope that the OAS will be active in fostering a dialogue, and we plan on engaging it on this matter."

Senator Dodd said: "I am deeply concerned by the recent inflammatory actions of Venezuela along the Colombian border. The recent troop buildup in the region is an irresponsible and clearly provocative act aimed at inciting further hostility.

"Increased dialogue, not troop escalation, is the only path to a solution agreeable to all parties. The Organization of American States (OAS) has long served as a venue for conflict resolution and dialogue, and we hope that today's meeting will establish a path to a peaceful solution to the current crisis."

Dodd and Menendez intend to request that the OAS dispatch a team to investigate the authenticity of the information retrieved at the site of the incident in question, and further request that the OAS serve as an objective body to verify and distribute a factual account of what occurred. They further call upon the parties involved, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, to do their utmost to resolve their differences diplomatically.

###