Chavez hails Russian stance on Syrian conflict

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June 4, 2012, 6:20 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters


CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised Russia for its stance on the Syria conflict and accused the Arab League of siding with the U.S. "empire" over that conflict and last year's war in Libya. Venezuela's socialist leader is a virulent critic of the United States and is vocal in his support for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, as he was with Libya's late Muammar Gaddafi.

"Fortunately we have Russia, which has taken a strong stance against the military position against Syria," Chavez said in a phone call to Venezuelan state television late on June 3, adding that no such turmoil could ever happen in Latin America.

"The Arab League has sided with the 'empire'. It called for Libya to be attacked. This would never happen in Latin America. Here there's a (revolutionary) process underway."

Western air strikes helped bring an end to Gaddafi's rule in Libya last year. There has been no such international consensus for armed intervention in Syria, despite 14 months of bloodshed.

A Syrian opposition group said on Monday that rebels had killed at least 80 troops over the weekend in a surge of attacks that followed their threat to resume fighting if the president failed to observe a U.N.-backed ceasefire.

Critics of Chavez, who is seeking re-election in October despite battling cancer, say his support for Assad - like his past backing for Gaddafi - show his own dictatorial tendencies.

OPEC member Venezuela has been sending diesel to Syria despite Western sanctions on the government in Damascus.

Venezuela has drawn close to Moscow under Chavez, buying billions of dollars worth of Russian weapons and opening up its oil industry to investment by Russian companies.
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