Chavez accuses US plane of `electronic warfare'
A day after saying he hopes to eventually cool tensions with Colombia, President Hugo Chavez charged that his neighbor recently allowed a U.S. military plane to carry out "electronic warfare" operations against Venezuela.
Chavez told a crowd of soldiers Monday that his intelligence services detected the American aircraft that he said took off from a Colombian base and flew along the border between the two South American nations, which have seen long tense relations worsen in recent months.
Without giving details, he said Venezuela's military intelligence intercepted a conversation between the pilot and air traffic controllers in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla. The aircraft conducted espionage operations, he said.
"Through our strategic intelligence, we detected an RC-12 airplane belonging to the U.S. Air Force," Chavez said during a talk to an auditorium packed with military officers, rank-and-file soldiers and cadets.
"It was a plane specialized for electronic war, and it was carrying out electronic war operations," he added.
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Robin Holzhauer would not directly respond to Chavez's accusation during a telephone interview on Monday, saying only that "the United States and Colombia engage in a number of bilateral activities," all of which "respect the sovereignty of other nations."
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