Putin Hopes for Political Solution to
South American Crisis

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) — President Vladimir Putin told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a phone conversation that he hoped the current conflict in South America would be resolved by political and diplomatic means, the Kremlin press service said on Thursday.

Russia on Tuesday urged Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela to avoid escalating tensions after Colombian forces crossed into Ecuador and killed a senior rebel commander.

Colombia’s military announced on Saturday that troops had killed Raul Reyes, a leading Marxist FARC figure, during an attack on a camp in an Ecuadorian jungle.

In response to the attack, Ecuador and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Colombia and deployed troops on their neighbor’s border.

Chavez warned that war could break out if Colombia struck on Venezuelan soil.

In a recent dramatic turn in the crisis, Colombia alleged that Chavez had funded the FARC rebels and that they had been planning to make a ‘dirty’ bomb from radioactive materials, threatening the entire region.

As well as speaking to Russia’s outgoing president, Chavez also talked with the country’s president-elect, Dmitry Medvedev.

"Medvedev and Chavez expressed their firm intention to continue developing versatile cooperation based on the groundwork laid in recent years, and agreed to exchange visits in the future," the office of the Russian first deputy prime minister said.