Nicaragua to break off relations with Colombia

Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega says he is breaking off relations with Colombia over the country’s raid on a guerrilla base in Ecuador.

Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega says he is breaking off relations with Colombia over the country’s raid on a guerrilla base in Ecuador.

Mr Ortega announced his decision last night while sitting beside Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, who is touring the region to rally opposition to Colombia’s attack on Saturday, which killed a senior Colombian rebel leader and more than 20 other people.

“We are breaking off relations because of the political terrorism being carried out by the government of Alvaro Uribe, not because of the Colombian people,” Mr Ortega said, referring to the Colombian president.

Nicaragua has a long-standing maritime boundary dispute with Colombia and Mr Ortega is a strong ally of left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Mr Correa.

Mr Chavez, who has spoken out vociferously against the Colombian raid, recalled the Colombian ambassador to Venezuela earlier this week but did not fully sever diplomatic relations.

Mr Ortega, whose earlier Sandinista government fought US-backed Contra forces in the 1980s, promised to maintain friendly relations with the US when he was elected in 2006.

But he also has threatened to nationalise companies that do not co-operate with his government and has joined Mr Chavez in complaining of US domination of the region.

Mr Ortega said Nicaragua would not renew relations with Colombia until it complied with parts of a decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, that favoured Nicaragua in the maritime dispute.

In December, the court rejected Nicaragua’s claims to three disputed Caribbean islands, but left open the chance Nicaragua might win rights to other islands in the chain and recognition of some of the sea it claims.

Mr Ortega said Colombia also must promise to “not again commit terrorist acts like the one it has launched against Ecuador”.

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