Colombia to return Venezuela national guard troops

AP News
Posted: Nov 14, 2009 9:14 PM

Four soldiers from Venezuela's National Guard captured in Colombian territory will be repatriated in a bid to ease tensions between the South American neighbors, President Alvaro Uribe's government said Saturday.

The Colombian navy intercepted the men Friday in El Aceitico along the border, according to a statement by Colombia's DAS intelligence agency. It said they were traveling in a boat, inside which Venezuelan military uniforms were found.

Long-standing tensions have worsened in recent months over Colombia's agreement to give the U.S. military more access to its bases _ a deal that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez calls a threat to his country.

Chavez ordered his military last weekend to prepare for possible war with Colombia in case the U.S. attempts to provoke one.

There also have been several shootings and slayings the past few weeks along the Venezuela-Colombia border.

Uribe said Saturday that the detained Venezuelan soldiers will be sent home.

"They should carry a message. And the message is that here, there is affection for the brother people of Venezuela," Uribe said.

The DAS statement said Colombia hopes Venezuela will respond in kind by promptly returning a detective who was detained by Venezuelan authorities while on vacation.