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Ecuador plans to maintain economic relations with Colombia despite
Ecuador plans to maintain economic relations with Colombia despite the fact that the countries have broken diplomatic ties, Ecuador's ambassador to Russia said Friday.

"We have always abided by the principle of preserving trade relations [with Colombia]," Patricio Chavez said adding that "Ecuador intends to separate commercial relations [from politics] and to carry on trading with Colombia."

Colombia's military announced last Saturday that troops had killed Raul Reyes, a leading Marxist FARC figure, during an attack on a camp in the Ecuadorian jungle. The operation included air strikes and border shootouts.

In response to the attack, Ecuador and Venezuela, followed by Nicaragua, cut diplomatic ties with Colombia and deployed troops on their neighbor's border. Ecuador's defense ministry said that troops had arrested members of the Revolutionary Armed Forced near to the Colombian border Friday.

Venezuela's left-wing President Hugo Chavez warned that war could break out if Colombia entered Venezuelan soil.

In a recent dramatic turn in the crisis, Colombia alleged that Chavez had funded the FARC rebels and that they had been planning to make a 'dirty' bomb from radioactive materials, threatening the entire region.

Angry exchanges were swapped by Latin American leaders during a 20-nation Rio Group summit in the Dominican Republic attended by 15 regional presidents which should have focused on energy and regional matters.

Ecuador leader Rafael Correa criticized Colombia for its "aggression" and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused the Ecuadorian president of accepting funds from FARC.


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