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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 01:45 GMT
Spain seeks to defuse Chavez row
Hugo Chavez in Chile, 10 Nov
Hugo Chavez said he was not going to shut up

The Spanish foreign minister has moved to defuse a public row between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Spanish King Juan Carlos.

"I don't believe it should affect relations with Venezuela," he said.

On Saturday the king told Mr Chavez to "shut up" at a summit in Chile after the president said ex-Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar was a "fascist".

The next day Mr Chavez said the king was "imprudent" and asked if he knew in advance of the 2002 coup against him.

Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said that he wanted dialogue with Venezuela to continue "on condition that we are respected".

"We want to have good relations with everyone, but always with respect for institutions. If we are not shown respect, we must react," he said.

The spat began at the Ibero-American Summit in Chile's capital, Santiago, when Mr Chavez called Mr Aznar, a close ally of US President George W Bush, a fascist, adding "fascists are not human. A snake is more human."

But I think it's imprudent for a king to shout at a president to shut up - Mr King, we are not going to shut up
Hugo Chavez

Current Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero then said: "[Former Prime Minister] Aznar was democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate representative of the Spanish people."

When Mr Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, the king leaned forward and said: "Why don't you shut up?" before storming out.

'Intolerable'

In Spain, the king's actions were applauded.

El Mundo said: "The king has put Chavez in his place in the name of all Spaniards."

The left-leaning El Pais said Mr Chavez's outburst was "intolerable".

Mr Zapatero (l) and King Juan Carlos in Santiago, 10 November 2007
King Juan Carlos (r) has had a turbulent few months

Then, as Mr Chavez was leaving the summit, he questioned whether Spain's ambassador had had the monarch's blessing when he appeared with Venezuelan interim president Pedro Carmona during the two-day coup in 2002.

"Mr King, did you know about the coup d'etat against Venezuela, against the democratic, legitimate government of Venezuela in 2002?" he asked at a news conference.

On Sunday, Mr Chavez said he hoped the spat would not damage relations.

"But I think it's imprudent for a king to shout at a president to shut up. Mr King, we are not going to shut up."

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