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Rice toughens anti-Chavez talk, urges nations to keep terrorists out
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    BRASILIA, BRAZIL — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday urged nations such as Venezuela to meet their U.N. obligations and keep terrorists out of their territories.
    ‘‘Borders are important. But borders cannot be a means by which terrorists hide and engage in activities that kill innocent civilians,’’ Rice said after meeting with Brazilian leaders on a two-day trip to South America.
    Her comments come a day after President Bush said Venezuela’s response to the recent crisis in Colombia and Ecuador was ‘‘the latest step in a disturbing pattern of provocative behavior by the regime in Caracas.’’
    The Bush administration is ramping up its tough talk against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, while at the same time praising its South American allies for holding strong against terrorism.
    The latest rhetoric, including discussion of whether Venezuela should be designated a state sponsor of terror, is aimed at isolating Chavez and building stronger alliances inside Latin America at a time U.S. foreign policy remains deeply unpopular throughout the world.
    Rice planned to visit Chile after her stop in Brazil, using the opportunity to engage leaders who the administration says have been helpful to U.S. economic and anti-terrorism efforts.
    Left out of Rice’s itinerary are those countries that have been critical of the U.S., including Argentina.
    Rice met Thursday morning with Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.
    While the leaders discussed such issues as the economy and the use of biofuels, overshadowing their agenda was the recent clash in Ecuador.
    Earlier this month, Chavez and Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, ordered troops to their Colombian borders and withdrew their ambassadors from Bogota after Colombia killed a top rebel leader, Raul Reyes, on Ecuadorean soil.
    During the raid, Colombia obtained computer hard drives that U.S. officials say show the Venezuelan government may have had dealings with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which the U.S. regards as a terrorist group.
    When asked whether the U.S. was considering designating Venezuela a state sponsor of terror, Rice said: ‘‘We will watch the situation and act accordingly.’’
    On Wednesday, Bush said ‘‘the region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept the vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively support democratic leaders like President (Alvaro) Uribe’’ of Colombia, he said.
    ‘‘I’ve made my choice. I’m standing with courageous leadership that believes in freedom and peace,’’ Bush said.
    Bush warned Congress that failing to approve a trade deal with Colombia would fuel Chavez’s anti-American regime and cast the United States as untrustworthy and impotent across South America.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Bush should not send the trade bill to Capitol Hill without the typical consent from congressional leadership.
    Any change from that process, she said, ‘‘could prove to be counterproductive and would work against both countries’ long-term interests.’’
    Democrats have objected that Colombia’s government has not done enough to halt violence, protect labor activists and demobilize paramilitary organizations.

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