Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday said he had sent troops to the Colombian border because of alleged threatening moves by Bogota.

In televised remarks, Mr. Chavez charged that his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe, whose second term in office ends next week, was trying to provoke war against Venezuela.

“Uribe is obsessed with a war,” Mr. Chavez charged. “That has become a threat for Venezuela.” Mr. Chavez did not offer evidence for his claims. He cut relations last week with Bogota after Colombia accused Venezuela of harbouring some 1,500 leftist Colombian guerillas of the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) on its territory.

FARC has waged nearly half a century of war against the Bogota government. Chavez, a leftist—populist, has long been critical of conservative Uribe and the support he gets from the U.S. government in fighting against FARC.

Uribe’s successor, his former defence minister Juan Manuel Santos, takes office August 7.

The Venezuelan government has sent infantry and air force units to the border, Mr. Chavez said. It was done without public announcement to avoid the impression Venezuela was on the attack, Mr. Chavez said.

Mr. Chavez said he would like to meet with Mr. Santos to restore fractured relations between the two countries.

“War is not our thing,” Mr. Chavez said. “Our war is the fight against poverty.”

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