Hugo Chávez told Venezuelan troops to prepare for war with Colombia on Sunday, and asked soldiers to be ready if the U.S. provoked conflict between the two countries. Chávez's statement came as diplomatic tensions between the two countries have been exacerbated in recent weeks by a series of shootings along the Venezuela-Colombia border, and Venezuelan arrests of at least ten people accused of paramilitary activities last month. A deal between the U.S. and Colombia to allow U.S. troops greater access to Colombian military bases further rankled Chávez, who says the U.S. could launch an invasion of Venezuela from Colombian soil. The U.S. says the deal is aimed at fighting drug traffickers and Marxist guerrillas in Colombia. Colombia is appealing to the UN and the Organization of American States over Chávez's threat. Recently, Colombia asked the World Trade Organization for help after Chávez blocked the import of Colombian goods in retribution for the U.S. military pact.