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Last Updated:3/12/02
Excerpt from State Department daily briefing, February 25, 2002

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 25, 2002

QUESTION: With the new developments of the war -- the conflict in Colombia, how concerned is the US Government regarding the security that the Venezuelan Government is providing to the oil pipes and other sources of oil, taking into account that Venezuela is a supposed reliable supplier of oil to the US?

MR. BOUCHER: Are you talking about Colombian oil pipelines or Venezuelan oil pipelines?

QUESTION: I'm talking about Venezuelan pipelines, because with the spread of the conflict up along the border, there is certain concern that the Venezuelan pipes could also be at risk.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to see if that's a situation that we've addressed. As you know, we have been concerned about the pipelines in Colombia because there is a history and a record of their being attacked repeatedly and shut down from time to time, depriving the government of oil revenue, as well as depriving the world or the region of Colombia's resources. So that is a proposal that we've made to our Congress we're looking for funding for. I really don't know exactly where we stand with the Venezuelan pipelines. I'll have to look at that and see.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) kidnapping presidential candidate (inaudible) put new light on the instability of the democratic process in Colombia. What are the concerns of the US, and will there be any effort to help out as they approach the May elections and assure security?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't think we would say that this is some example of the instability of the democratic process in Colombia. We would say it's another very tragic example of the pattern of behavior by the FARC, which the organization has committed over a hundred terrorist acts, including the murder of 20 civilians and last week's hijacking of the civilian airliner. Activities like these have led to the understandable decision of President Pastrana to suspend the peace talks.

We will continue to support the Colombian Government at this difficult time, and we strongly condemn this kidnapping and call for her immediate release.

QUESTION: Can you talk about reports that the US is going to provide military intelligence to Colombia, and in general about the expansion of US assistance to Colombia for counter-insurgency rather than counter-narcotics?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't talk any more about what we're providing in support for Colombia than I did on Friday when I talked about providing more information, spare parts, things like that. And if there's anything else to talk about, I'll get to you when we do.

As of March 12, 2002, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2002/8465.htm
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