Uribe in Brazil to seek support from neighbors

BRASILIA, Brazil, Reuters

Colombian President-elect Alvaro Uribe arrived in Brazil on Sunday as part of a Latin American tour aimed at seeking support from his neighbors to end his country’s 38-year-old guerrilla war.

Uribe posed for photos with his host President Fernando Henrique Cardoso at the presidential palace but made no statements to the press.

Accompanied by members of his planned cabinet, he held closed-door talks with Cardoso and Brazilian cabinet members, including top security adviser Alberto Cardoso.

Colombia’s embassy in Brasilia said it had no details of the topics discussed.

Uribe, who takes office August 7 after being elected on a hardline anti-rebel platform, wants to muster backing from neighboring nations who are worried about the spillover from Colombia’s cocaine-fueled guerrilla war.

He has described the support of neighboring Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador as imperative in stopping the booming drug trade that crosses porous jungle and mountain borders.

Brazil and Colombia share a vast border of dense rainforest and riverways stretching roughly 1,300 km (812 miles) along the headwaters of the Amazon. Brazilian armed forces recently staged their biggest ever joint military training exercise in the region.

While sporadic clashes between Brazilian soldiers and alleged Colombian rebels have been reported along the border in past years, at the diplomatic level Brazil has preferred to keep its distance from the drug-fueled war on its doorstep.

Uribe, who was in Peru and Ecuador earlier this month, leaves early Monday for Venezuela where he will meet embattled populist President Hugo Chavez on the last leg of his Latin American tour.