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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 14:16 GMT
Chavez and Fox dispute escalates
Mexican President Vicente Fox
Mexico says Mr Chavez's comments strike at the dignity of its people
The Mexican President, Vicente Fox, has threatened to cut off all diplomatic ties with Venezuela.

He said he would take that action if Venezuela's leader, Hugo Chavez, kept on making comments about him or Mexico.

Earlier, both countries withdrew their ambassadors from each other's capitals after a row over free trade degenerated into bitter exchanges.

Mr Chavez had refused to apologise for calling the Mexican President a "puppy" of US imperialism.

The row began last week, after Mexico supported a failed US bid to relaunch the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Summit of the Americas early in November.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Chavez has every right to be in favour or against a political issue but we cannot tolerate insults
Ricardo Villarreal, Monterrey, Mexico

On Sunday, Mr Chavez accused the Mexican leader of disrespecting him and warned: "Don't mess with me sir, because you'll come out pricked."

He also accused Mr Fox again for allegedly violating protocol in trying to press for an agreement on the FTAA when it was not on the summit's agenda.

Mexico said the comments "strike at the dignity of the Mexican people" and demanded a formal apology from Venezuela or severing diplomatic ties.

'Sad'

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez called the demand "unjustifiable" and ordered the immediate return of ambassador Vladimir Villegas.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez has refused to apologise for his comments

Moments after Mr Rodriguez' announcement, Mr Fox told CNN en Espanol that Mexico's ambassador would be ordered back from Venezuela.

Last Wednesday, Mr Chavez said that Mr Fox had, as he put it, been left bleeding from the Summit of the Americas.

"How sad that the president of a people like the Mexicans lets himself become the puppy dog of the empire", he told an audience of supporters and businessmen in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

At the summit, the US and Mexico were unable to win backing for a resumption of talks on the FTAA.

They faced opposition from five of the 34 countries attending, among them Venezuela and the host, Argentina.

The other 29 nations - including Mexico - said they wanted to resume talks on the free trade agreement in 2006.




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