Colombia’s Santos vows to thwart Nicaragua’s ‘expansionist plans’

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday he will do everything in his power to prevent Nicaragua’s “expansionist” ambitions over domestic territory and called an international court ruling that gave waters to Nicaragua inapplicable.

After years of diplomatic wrangling, the International Court of Justice in November drew a demarcation line in favour of Nicaragua, reducing the expanse of ocean belonging to Colombia and sparking a diplomatic dispute that led both sides to send armed vessels to patrol the contested waters.

Colombia has been angered by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s plans to allow foreign companies to explore for oil in Caribbean seas that Colombia maintains are its own and Santos has ordered his navy to remain in the disputed waters.

Santos said Nicaragua also wants to push its maritime borders closer to the historic city of Cartagena.

“Colombia is confronting, and will confront, such expansionist pretensions with all the determination and rigor it requires,” Santos said in a televised national address.

“What I guarded as a sailor and defended as a minister, I will protect until the ultimate consequences as president,” said Santos, a former defence minister and navy cadet.

Describing the court ruling as “not applicable,” Santos said he would oppose any attempt by Nicaragua to extend its sea frontier toward Colombia and has a series of technical and judicial arguments ready to press its case, which he declined to reveal.

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