Monday, October 10, 2005

Chavez slams Pat Robertson remarks

Venezuela has dismissed as "absurd" charges by US evangelist preacher Pat Robertson that President Hugo Chavez had sent money to Osama bin Ladin after the 9/11 attacks and was seeking nuclear material from Iran.

The remarks by Robertson on Sunday, a one-time Republican presidential candidate and a leader of Christian conservatives, came just weeks after he triggered a media storm by calling on Washington to assassinate left-winger Chavez.

"This man is insane at the very least. This is absurd," Venezuelan Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said.

"Some policies up north force one to look at them not through the usual political analysis, but with a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and even shamans," he said.

Robertson's assassination comments in August underscored the deep political rift that has grown between oil producer Venezuela and the United States since Chavez was elected in 1998 with a populist promise to fight poverty.

Chavez, who has spent millions of dollars in oil revenues on social programmes for the poor, dismisses those charges. He blames the United States for a 2002 coup he survived and says Washington wants to assassinate or topple him.

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