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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 00:59 GMT
Chavez says US plans to kill him
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during his Sunday's TV show
Hugo Chavez: "I know that I have been condemned to die"
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he believes the US government is planning to assassinate him.

"If they kill me, the name of the person responsible is [President] George Bush," Mr Chavez said.

Mr Chavez - who offered no evidence to back his claim - said any attempt on his life would backfire and threatened to cut off oil supplies to America.

He was apparently reacting to growing criticism by top US officials of his left-wing government.

If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently described the former paratrooper as a "negative force" in Latin America, while CIA chief Porter Goss said Venezuela was a possible source of instability in the region.

Washington accuses Mr Chavez of being heavy-handed towards Venezuela's opposition, and has recently criticised Caracas for arms purchases from Russia.

Diplomatic ties between Washington and Caracas have soured since Mr Chavez came to power in 1999.

There was no immediate response to his comments from Washington.

'No-nonsense talk'

"If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush, " Mr Chavez said during his weekly TV show.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state-designate
Rice and other US officials have recently stepped up their criticism

"If you try, you will regret it Comrade Mr Bush."

Venezuela is one of the world's leading oil exporters - it sells about 1.5 million barrels a day to the US.

Mr Chavez has repeatedly accused the US of backing Venezuela's opposition to oust or even kill him, a charge Washington denies.

He has alleged that the White House played part in an April coup in 2002, which briefly removed him from power.

Mr Chavez's comments echoed the words of Cuban President Fidel Castro who said last week: "If Chavez is assassinated, the blame will fall on Bush."

"I say that as someone who has survived hundreds of the empire's (assassination) plans," Mr Castro added.

"Now, I am going to say it. Neither Fidel Castro nor I talk nonsense," Mr Chavez said on Sunday.

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