U.S. Says Venezuela Backs Colombia Rebels


WASHINGTONVenezuela is destabilizing the border area with Colombia by supplying weapons to the country's main leftist insurgency, a top State Department official said Wednesday. In an interview with The Associated Press, Nicholas Burns, the State Department's third-ranking official, said the United States is disturbed by what he described as Venezuela's "massive" arms imports. He spoke on the eve of a meeting between President Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at Bush's Texas ranch.
Burns expressed hope that Venezuela "will refrain from giving support to the FARC," referring to Colombia's oldest and largest rebel group. Asked if this meant Venezuela has been supporting the FARC with weapons, Burns said, "Yes." The Venezuelan embassy did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.