Chavez blasts Libya strikes on his 'friend' Kadhafi

AFP , Wednesday 27 Apr 2011

Chavez accused NATO on Tuesday of trying to kill his "friend" Moamer Kadhafi and said a Libyan delegation was in Caracas to seek a peaceful way out of the conflict

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In this photo made on a government organized tour, Libyan government soldiers walk through debris caused by a NATO airstrike, in Tripoli, Libya, Monday 25 April 2011. (AP)

"You know that Gaddafi is our friend, but this has nothing to do with friendship. Who has the right to drop bombs like this? They are looking for Gaddafi to kill him," said the leader of Latin America's radical left Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Libya's closest ally in the region.

"We don't agree with everything Gaddafi is doing or has done, but who has the right to drop bombs on him each morning? They have been dropped on a commercial center, a hospital, a university. All that for regime change."

Speaking at a gathering of Latin America and Caribbean diplomats, Chavez said Gaddafi had sent a delegation to Caracas "to look for a peaceful way out of the crisis."

He provided no details, but Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the Venezuelan government had been in "permanent contact" with Gaddafi's team in recent weeks.

"We are going to talk with them to see what other efforts can be made by Alba (a regional grouping led by Venezuela), by Latin America to accompany Libya in the restoration of peace and stability," he told reporters.

Allied warplanes struck Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli on Monday in what NATO called a "precision strike" on a communications center that did not seek to kill the Libyan leader.

Tripoli said the transatlantic military alliance was trying to assassinate Gaddafi, but NATO members have sent mixed signals since the air campaign was launched last month on the merits of targeting the man who has ruled Libya for four decades.

The UN resolution approving military intervention focuses on protecting civilians against the regime's forces, but US and European leaders have made clear they want to see an end to Gaddafi's rule.

Chavez, meanwhile, also relaunched his proposal to dispatch a peacemaking team to "find a political solution to the problem." Libyan rebels seeking to oust Gaddafi rejected his initial plans when he first presented them in early March and they gained little traction internationally.

For the Venezuelan leader, the foreign intervention in Libya has a single goal in mind: "seize the oil."

Chavez and Gaddafi routinely make public condemnations of US "imperialism" and have exchanged visits in recent years. Ties are so close that Gaddafi was rumored early in the conflict roiling Libya for over two months to have fled to Caracas, claims that were later denied.

Following the NATO raid on his Tripoli compound,Gaddafi remained defiant despite the attack which his regime said killed three people and wounded 45.

"The leader is working from Tripoli. The leader is well, is very healthy, is leading the battle for peace and democracy in Libya," regime spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said outside the bombed building at Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya residence.

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