- - Monday, August 9, 2010

COLOMBIA

Presidents to meet on diplomatic rift

BOGOTA | Colombia’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos, is moving swiftly to defuse a quarrel with Venezuela that raised the specter of war between the South American neighbors, hosting a summit Tuesday with President Hugo Chavez.

“We will meet Tuesday in Colombia at a place chosen by mutual agreement,” Mr. Santos said the day after he was sworn into office.

“Today, I’ll go to bed a happy man,” said Mr. Chavez. “We are going to initiate a new relationship for the good of our two countries.”

With Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in attendance, Mr. Santos had used his inauguration address Saturday to call for a “direct dialogue” with Caracas.

Mr. Maduro then took the next step toward ending a tense, weeks-long diplomatic crisis, meeting the following day in Bogota with his Colombian counterpart, Maria Angela Holguin, to arrange the summit.

Mr. Chavez severed relations with Colombia on July 22 after it brought charges before the Organization of American States that Venezuela was harboring 1,500 rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

BRAZIL

British man walks Amazon in 2 years

MARUDA | After 859 days, thousands of miles and “50,000 mosquito bites,” Ed Stafford became the first man known to have walked the entire 4,200-mile length of the Amazon River when the waves of the Atlantic Ocean lapped at his feet in northern Brazil on Monday.

“It’s unbelievable to be here,” Mr. Stafford told the Associated Press the moment he entered the sea. “It proves you can do anything — even if people say you cannot. I’ve proved that if you want something enough, you can do anything.”

While he says he is “no eco-warrior,” Mr. Stafford told the AP near the end of his journey that he hoped his feat would raise awareness of destruction to the Amazon rain forest — but that at its heart, it was simply a grand expedition of endurance.

“The crux of it is, if this wasn’t a selfish, boy’s-own adventure, I don’t think it would have worked,” the 34-year-old former British army captain told the AP. “I am simply doing it because no one has done it before.”

Mr. Stafford and a British friend began the walk on April 2, 2008, on the southern coast of Peru. Within three months, his pal left. Mr. Stafford carried on, walking bits of the route with hundreds of locals he met along the way.

CANADA

Officials concerned about migrant ship

TORONTO | Canada’s top security official says he’s concerned a ship carrying asylum seekers from Sri Lanka could be carrying members of a terrorist organization.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Monday they have concerns the ship could be carrying members of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist group outlawed in Canada since 2006.

The Thai cargo ship — the MV Sun Sea — is expected to reach Canada as soon as this week.

Mr. Toews is being briefed regularly but declined to provide further details. He says it is imperative that Canada prevent terrorist groups from abusing the refugee system.

Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May 2009 after a massive government operation against the Tigers.

COLOMBIA

New vice president has heart attack

BOGOTA | A heart attack has sent Colombia’s new vice president to the hospital after less than two days on the job.

Bogota’s health secretary said Angelino Garzon was “stable … and conscious.”

Hector Zambrano added that doctors were running a battery of tests on the 63-year-old vice president.

Mr. Garzon is a former state governor, journalist and union leader who was sworn in Saturday, along with President Juan Manuel Santos.

He suffered the heart attack early Monday.

CHILE

Rescue unlikely for copper miners

SANTIAGO | With time running out for 33 miners trapped deep inside a gold and copper mine, Chile’s president is pleading for international help.

The miners have now been trapped more than 800 yards below the surface for four days since the main access collapsed with tons of falling rock.

Rescuers were working around the clock to reach the miners through a narrow air shaft, but on Saturday it, too, collapsed.

On Monday, President Sebastian Pinera said his country has appealed to Peru, the United States, Canada and Australia for expertise.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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