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(AXcess News) Wasington – Ecuador Defense Minister Javier Ponce Cevallos said his country’s collaboration with the Colombian government’s battle against guerrilla groups is limited to exchanging information and does not involve joint military actions.

The two Andean countries are in talks to re-establish diplomatic relations, which were broken in 2008.

Ponce is on an official visit to Washington. He met Monday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and held a news conference Wednesday.

Ecuador broke relations with Colombia after a joint Colombian and American military raid attacked a FARC guerrilla camp in Ecuador near the border with Colombia. FARC’s second-in-command, Raul Reyes, and several other insurgents were killed.

On Sunday, Colombia launched a bombing over a guerrilla camp near its border with Ecuador. This time, Colombia’s military operations didn’t spark any protest from the Ecuadorian government, as had previous military actions.

"there was not a specific a role in that military action," Ponce said, referring to Ecuador’s involvement in weekend attack.

Gates committed to a $15 million increase for Plan Ecuador, which Ponce described as a "peaceful development program" for the population along Ecuador’s northern border, an area affected by Colombian and insurgent group conflict.

This sum adds to the $56 million the U.S. already spends for social programs in Ecuador.

After Sunday’s air strike, Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, commended Ecuador’s cooperation. Santos’ complimentary words raise questions about how involved Ecuador is in the effort to thwart guerrilla groups.

"Ecuador wants to collaborate as much as possible with Colombia," Ponce said. "It’s important to clarify that Ecuador isn’t going to play the anvil’s role in Colombia’s government conflict against insurgent groups."

Ecuador has increased the number of military personnel securing its northern border. Ponce said 19 military units – 10,000 soldiers, a third of its army – are securing its borders.

Ponce said he asked Gates to insist that Colombia to add to the three military units it deploys to guard the frontier with Ecuador.

Gates and Ponce discussed efforts to curb drug-trafficking in the Andean region. "The battle against drug-trafficking – it’s a substantial topic in our relations with Colombia as well with the U.S.," Ponce said. "in that matter, there is collaboration between both states."

Ecuador shares borders with Bolivia and Colombia, two major producers of coca leaves, which yield cocaine after being processed. Ponce said his country doesn’t have coca plantations but is used as transit point for drug shipments to the U.S.

Some of these drugs are moved in hand-made submarines. Ponce said Ecuadorian security forces recently confiscated a 5-ton cargo submarine with the capability to sail from Ecuador to North American.

Ponce also met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to discuss human trafficking involving Ecuadorian citizens brought to the U.S. Ponce said that cooperation with DHS contributed to the rescue of a 9-year-old Ecuadorian boy kidnapped by a coyote, a person who smuggles illegal immigrants into the U.S., while he and his mother were trying to enter to the U.S. illegally.

Ponce referred to the August discovery in northern Mexico of 72 bodies, many from Central or South America who were probably kidnapped by a drug ring.

"This news is very important for Ecuador," Ponce said about the boy’s rescue, "after the enormous tragedy that meant for us more than 70 immigrants slaughtered by criminal bands in Mexico."

Source: Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

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