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Page last updated at 04:40 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 05:40 UK

Gaddafi's Venezuela shopping trip

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi in Margarita, Venezuela (28 Sept 2009)
Col Gaddafi was the only person in his group to buy from Star PC

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has made a surprise appearance on the Venezuelan island of Margarita, going on a shopping spree with his entourage.

Col Gaddafi wandered around shops in the island's luxury Sambil arcade, buying jewellery and digital cameras.

He also posed for photographs with excited shop workers.

Col Gaddafi is in Venezuela for a summit of South American and African leaders, where he has denounced the "imperialism" of wealthy nations.

"It was all so totally unexpected," Carlos Morales, who works at Star PC in the Sambil shopping centre, told the BBC.

Mr Morales said the Libyan leader was accompanied by an entourage of about 25 people, including friends and security guards.

"To begin with, we didn't think he was going to come in, there were so many of them. But then he suddenly did and we didn't know what to do," he said.

"We were all really nervous - imagine, a president from another country in here. But in the end we went over and served him and it was great."

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Col Gaddafi, the only one of his party to buy anything in the shop, snapped up two digital cameras, which the staff of Star PC tested for him by taking a group photograph.

"We treated him with great affection and we're very proud that he decided to buy our merchandise," said Mr Morales.

"It was a completely unforgettable experience."

Col Gaddafi also visited a jewellery shop in the arcade, where store owner Mariza Serapioni said he bought a gold and silver jewel-encrusted chain and ring, made in South Africa.

Mariela Cartaya, a 30-year-old Venezuelan tourist, said she and her son posed with Mr Gaddafi for a photograph.

"He told me to give him a bit of space - he half hugged the child," she told AP.

Libya and Venezuela have enjoyed a close relationship for a number of years. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has visited Libya several times and the country named a football stadium in his honour.



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