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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 00:51 GMT
Chavez rejects 'attack' by Blair
Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez said Tony Blair had no right to criticise him
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused UK Prime Minister Tony Blair of opening up a European flank in attacks on Venezuela.

He was responding to comments by Mr Blair, urging Venezuela to abide by the rules of the international community.

Mr Chavez said Mr Blair had flouted those very rules by invading Iraq.

He called Mr Blair "a pawn of imperialism, trying now to attack us from Europe", and "the main ally of Hitler" - a reference to George W Bush.

The Venezuelan president has long railed against the US president, and accuses the US of planning to invade his country.

On Sunday he said his country needed a million armed men and women prepared to defend it.

Alliance with Cuba

Relations between Venezuela and the US worsened last week when both countries expelled one another's diplomats, after Venezuela accused the US embassy in Caracas of spying.

After US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently compared the Venezuelan president with Adolf Hitler, Mr Chavez responded: "The imperialist, genocidal, fascist attitude of the US president has no limits. I think Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W Bush."

Tony Blair
Tony Blair was responding to a question in the House of Commons

On Wednesday in the House of Commons, Mr Blair was asked by Colin Burgon, an MP from his Labour party, whether Britain should follow "a really right-wing US republican agenda" in relation to Venezuela.

"It is rather important that the government of Venezuela realise that if they want to be respected members of the international community they should abide by the rules of the international community," Mr Blair replied.

"I also have to say with the greatest respect to the president of Venezuela that when he forms an alliance with Cuba I would prefer to see Cuba a proper functioning democracy."

Mr Chavez, a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro, retorted: "You, Mr Blair, do not have the morality to call on anyone to respect the rules of the international community.

"You are precisely the one who has flouted international law the most... siding with Mr Danger [George Bush] to trample the people in Iraq."

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