Venezuelan foreign minister says Negroponte has "criminal record"

Venezuelan foreign minister says Negroponte has "criminal record"Medellin, Colombia  - Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro attacked US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Tuesday, calling him a "petty official with a criminal record."

At the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Colombian city of Medellin, Maduro accused Negroponte of being "responsible for disappearances, for tortures and for deaths in Central America and in several parts of the world."

He further termed him a "character of the worst kind."

Maduro was reacting to comments by Negroponte, who on Monday called upon Venezuela to actively combat the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that "have sought sanctuary" in its territory.

Maduro accused Negroponte of seeking to "drive the wedge of intrigue" at the Medellin gathering and to determine the agenda of the meeting.

The Venezuelan minister interpreted that the United States was upset about the meeting that Maduro held Monday with Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo, who sought to revamp bilateral ties following a severe crisis.

"This petty official has no moral quality to talk about any issues in our continent, and neither does the United States," Maduro complained.

He went as far as to say that the US government is "behind the political operation, the show that is being staged around the computers" found in a Colombian cross-border raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorian territory on March 1.

The raid has been a constant topic at the generala assembly meeting, which started Sunday and was set to end Tuesday.

According to Colombian officials, the contents of the computers reveal ties between the Venezuelan government and FARC.

"We call to the conscience of the Colombian people, of the Colombian government, to realize that behind this campaign there is only one objective: to divide us, to confront us against each other, to create a conflict," Maduro said. (dpa)