Sweden asks Venezuela to explain Colombia arms find

Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:14am EDT

STOCKHOLM, July 28 (Reuters) - The Swedish government said on Tuesday it had asked Venezuela for information on how Swedish-made weapons exported to the South American country had found their way to rebels in neighbouring Colombia.

Colombia authorities said on Monday they had seized anti-tank weapons purchased in Europe by Venezuela in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. [ID:nN27540288]

"It is correct that they have found these weapons to be Swedish-made," said Jens Eriksson, a top political adviser at the Foreign Ministry to Trade Minister Ewa Bjorling.

"We are working together with Colombian authorities to investigate the matter further and we have contacted Venezuelan authorities to clear up how these arms ended up in Colombia."

Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami denied on Monday the weapons found in the hands of FARC, which has been fighting for a socialist revolution since the 1960s and is labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States, had come from Venezuela.

Eriksson said "a smaller quantity" of arms, mainly ammunition, had also been found in rebel hands.

A Swedish Foreign Ministry official said the anti-tank weapons had been exported to Venezuela in the 1980s but that some shipments of ammunition for the weapons systems had occurred at a later date.

No licenses have been issued for arms exports to Colombia while no shipments of weapons to Venezuela under a 2006 licence has been carried out in recent years, Eriksson said. (editing by Robert Woodward)



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