Venezuela breaks ties with Colombia; warns against conflict

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's defense minister warned Colombia against provoking a conflict after President Hugo Chavez severed ties with the neighboring country and placed his military on alert on Friday.
Defense Minister Carlos Mata read a statement on state television promising "a strong response" if foreign forces cross into Venezuelan territory.
Chavez announced he was breaking off diplomatic relations with Colombia on Thursday, accusing its US-allied government of fabricating evidence showing Colombian rebel bases inside Venezuela.
Despite the diplomatic dispute, cars and pedestrians were moving between the countries as usual at border crossings on Friday, officials on both sides said. Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua called the situation on the border normal.
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