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US troops to leave Ecuador in September

Posted by smeddum on May 9, 2009

Fri, 08 May 2009 07

The US ambassador to Ecuador says Washington will pull out its troops from Manta military base in September after a lease agreement expires in 2009.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa decided not to renew the agreement in 2007 and urged the US to move its forces from the base in the Latin American country. The Manta air base agreement was signed in 1999. 

Ambassador Heather Hodges said on Thursday that the United States has not decided to which country it will move its anti-drug operations in Manta. 

The remarks are in contrast to comments by US ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield who said in mid April that Washington was considering deploying its Ecuador Manta forces in a new location in Colombia. 

“I am not going to deny that we are talking about this possibility,” Brownfield said, adding the move will secure Washington-Bogota cooperation. 

Colombia, the US main ally in the region, has received a total of USD 5.5 billion in economic and military aid from Washington since 2000. 

Hodges, however, expressed hope that the US and Ecuador can improve relations based on mutual respect. 

Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concerns over the growing relations between Latin American nations with other countries. 

“I don’t think in today’s world, where it’s a multipolar world, where we are competing for attention and relationships with the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, that it’s in our interest to turn our backs on our own hemisphere,” she said. 

Clinton also blamed the Bush administration for its policy concerning countries such as Venezuela and Cuba. 

AGB/DT

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