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Venezuela’s Chavez urges Libyan leader to resist

CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday sent a message of support to embattled Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, urging him to resist and calling on European nations to worry about their own domestic issues.

“There is Gaddafi resisting. Until when will this outrage last?” Chavez said at a meeting of his ministers. Part of the event was broadcast on the state television network VTV.

“Libya is a country of free and restless people that responds only to itself, and not the interests of the empire. Long live Libya and its independence!” Chavez proclaimed.

Chavez routinely describes the United States as “the empire.”

“European leaders,” he then said, “take care of the crisis that you have within.”

He complained that the leaders of France, Britain, Italy and Spain are now opposed to the Libyan regime, “when just a year ago they were going business with Gaddafi.”

Chavez continued: “There is old Gaddafi, resisting. Take courage, Gaddafi, take courage, Libya!”

The Chavez administration has consistently denounced the months-long military operation in Libya as an oil grab by Western powers.

Chavez in 2004 was awarded the al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, a prize granted by the Libyan leader. Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have also won the award.

Libyan rebels on Thursday pulled back from an assault on a gateway to Tripoli and set their sights on the oil city of Brega, as NATO dismissed charges of having killed more than 1,100 civilians.

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