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Colombia-Venezuela standoff dominated Mercosur Summit in San Juan, Argentina.

Presidents of Mercosur

Security issues and concerns over a developing military standoff between Colombia and Venezuela dominated talks of the Mercosur customs union, called in San Juan, Argentina, to advance a much-delayed economic and political integration agenda, reported news agency UPI.

Senior delegates said the talks would continue  Tuesday to try and reach consensus on key unresolved issues between the two countries.

Mercosur, which looks up to the European Union and aims to create a Latin American state comprised of its member-countries, found itself caught up in a bitter row over Colombia’s charges it was under attack from rebels bankrolled or trained by Venezuela.

Venezuela denies the accusation but has displayed its displeasure by cutting off diplomatic relations with Colombia, an act seen by Mercosur strategists as an untimely setback to integration attempts.

At a previous meeting of Colombian and Venezuelan leaders and delegates from neighboring countries, Colombian officials produced what they claimed was photographic evidence of Venezuelan connivance with FARC rebels that are suspected of dealing in drugs to support their campaign against Colombia.

FARC is also suspected of backing organized crime gangs that are at the center of a joint Colombian-U.S. campaign to rid Colombia of its drug overlords and cut off cocaine and heroin supply routes between Central and South America and the United States.

The Colombian anti-narcotics operations have involved U.S. forces and international security industries charged with removing the terrorist threat in the country and its environs, including Venezuela. Caracas denies any links with FARC.

Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs Hector Timerman announced the Colombian-Venezuelan row would be discussed by the heads of state of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela when the talks resume.

Analysts said the key issue before the leaders would be how to persuade Venezuela to review its decision to sever diplomatic relations with Colombia. Mediators have cited the impending government change in Colombia as a window of opportunity for Venezuela to scale down its anti-Colombian rhetoric.  READ MORE HERE.