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URIBE AND CHAVEZ INVITE CORREA TO LAUNCHING OF NEW PIPELINE

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was invited by Colombia and Venezuela to attend an upcoming meeting between their two presidents, Alvaro Uribe and Hugo Chavez to celebrate the opening of the new gas pipeline in the Colombian District of LaGuajira that connects the city of Ballenas with the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo.

The Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Ara├║jo gave an interview on Caracol Radio in Bogota where he said that "some think that this pipeline could be the seed for the construction of a second pipeline that would connect with Ecuador and, possibly, it could be extended to Peru and Bolivia in line with the greater energy integration that Venezuela has been promoting for some time."

The new pipeline to be opened on Friday Oct. 12 is 177 km (110 miles) and cost more than US$150 million to build. The proposed pipeline to Ecuador would require at least 12,00 km (800 miles) of pipeline to be constructed in a sensitive rain forest environment with the danger of guerilla attacks and sabotage.

Other issues to be discussed include Venezuela's admission back into the Andean Community. It is generally understood that Venezuela will be accepted back after withdrawing in 2006.

President Chavez was upset over the intents of Colombia and Peru to negotiate bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) with the U.S. Since that time both countries have signed and approved the FTAs and are now waiting on the U.S. Congress to ratify the treaties.

SOURCE: Caracol Radio, Bogota; El Comercio, Ecuador

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