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A U.S. ally is defending its decision to send military forces outside its borders.

Columbia sent troops to strike the refuge of a rebel group that has been battling the government for decades. Trouble is, the Columbian troops crossed into Ecuador. Ecuador then strengthened its border forces in response, and so did the nearby government of Valenzuela, which has been accused of supporting that rebel group.

NPR's Tom Gjelten reports.

TOM GJELTEN: Much of the debate yesterday was at the organization of American states here in Washington. Ecuador's foreign minister demand that the OAS condemn Columbia's incursion as a violation of Ecuador's sovereignty. But Columbia says it was Ecuador that acted illegally by providing sanctuary to the revolutionary armed forces of Columbia, the FARC, by their initials in Spanish.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an ally of the FARC, and in response to the raid, he sent tanks to the border with Columbia. Columbian officials say intelligence information seized in the raid show that Chavez has given hundreds of millions of dollars to the FARC. The Columbians also claimed they uncovered evidence that the FARC had been dealing in Uranium, which could be used to make radio active dirty bombs. The FARC have long been engaged in illegal drug trafficking, and a senior U.S. official last night said the group may be trying to smuggle the radioactive material into the United States with the idea of selling it to terrorist groups.

Tensions between the countries are high, but the crisis is not expected to last. Reports from Valenzuela indicate the border with Columbia is likely to reopen today.

Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.

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