Ecuador Recalls Ambassador From Columbia

The Associated Press
Friday, December 15, 2006; 11:41 PM

QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuador recalled its ambassador to Colombia on Friday, protesting Bogota's decision to resume aerial coca fumigation along the shared border.

The government also asked the Organization of American States and the United Nations to intervene in the escalating dispute.

Colombian authorities this week renewed spraying to within 330 feet of the border because coca growers had swarmed into the area. Ecuador is concerned that the drug-eradication herbicide was drifting across the border, killing legal crops and causing health problems.

"No one can accept, I say with total respect to this brother country, what the government of (Colombian President) Alvaro Uribe is doing," said Ecuadorean President-elect Rafael Correa, who takes office Jan. 15.

In a news conference, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Francisco Carrion said he called Ambassador Alejandro Suarez back to Quito for consultations "in a display of protest."

He said Ecuador wants the U.N. Commission on Human Rights to "visit the border and verify the situation in an impartial manner and ... prepare a report."

"Ecuador considers Colombia's resumption of the fumigation an unfriendly act, rejects the decision adopted by the neighboring country and demands an immediate suspension of the spraying," Carrion said.

He said Ecuador was open to dialogue with Colombia if it suspends the spraying.

Ecuador has suggested Colombia pull up coca plants by hand along the border. But the Colombian government says spray planes are quicker and less vulnerable to attacks by leftist rebels.

Colombia established a six-mile-wide no-spray zone along the border in January.


Associated Press writer Cesar Garcia in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Associated Press