BRASILIA - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday urged nations such as Venezuela to meet their UN obligations and keep terrorists out of their territories.
"Borders are important," Rice said after meeting with Brazilian leaders on a two-day trip to South America. "But borders cannot be a means by which terrorists hide and engage in activities that kill innocent civilians."
The Bush administration is stepping up its tough talk against Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, while at the same time praising its South American allies for holding strong against terrorism.
The latest exchanges, including discussion of whether Venezuela should be designated a state sponsor of terror, are aimed at isolating Chávez and building stronger alliances inside Latin America at a time US foreign policy remains unpopular throughout the world.
Rice met yesterday with President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and the country's foreign minister, Celso Amorim. While the leaders discussed such issues as the economy and the use of biofuels, the recent clash in Ecuador overshadowed their agenda.
Earlier this month Chávez and Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, ordered troops to their Colombian borders and withdrew their ambassadors from Bogota after Colombian forces ventured into Ecuador and killed a top rebel leader, Raul Reyes.
During the raid, Colombian forces obtained computer hard drives that US officials say show the Venezuelan government may have had dealings with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which the State Department regards as a terrorist group.