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Home >> World
UPDATED: 11:10, November 28, 2005
Chavez applauds Spain for "firmness" over arms deal
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday praised Spain for its "firmness" in implementing its sales of military ships and planes to Venezuela despite pressure from the United States.

"You know well how the north American empire has pressured the Spanish government in public and, I imagine, in private," Chavez said in his weekly television and radio show, "Hello, President," broadcast on Sunday.

"I want to recognize the efforts made to resist this steamrollering... this lack of respect by the imperialistic United States government," said Chavez, thanking Spanish King Juan Carlos, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono by name.

Bono will be in Caracas on Monday to sign with Venezuela the 2-billion-euro (2.3-billion-US-dollar) deal for four coastal patrol ships, four corvettes, 10 C-295 transport planes and two maritime surveillance planes.

When Spain announced the plan to sell arms to Venezuela in March, Washington said that it considered the sale a "destabilizing factor in the region", arguing that Chavez had "totalitarian tendencies".

The United States says that Chavez wishes to export his form of government to his neighbors, while Chavez says that the United States has employed "imperialist interventionism" against his country.

The United States had tried to block the deal by saying that some of the components of the boats and planes carry US technology, which requires an export license from the United States. Caracas said that European components could be used to replace the US parts, if Washington goes ahead with an export ban.

Venezuela and the United States have been at odds since Chavez took office six years ago.

Caracas criticized Washington for supporting an abortive coup aimed at overthrowing the Chavez government in April 2002. Chavez also said the United States had plans to invade Venezuela and assassinate him, but Washington denied the accusations.

There has been growing tension between the two countries in recent months partly due to the US criticism of Venezuela's

purchase of military equipment, including 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles from Russia.

Source: Xinhua

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