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12 May 2008 14:25
The German government on Monday brushed off a verbal attack from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in which the leftist leader said Chancellor Angela Merkel was a political descendant of Adolf Hitler and German fascism.
Merkel sets off for her first trip to Latin America on Tuesday, part of which she will spend at a summit of heads of state from Europe and Latin America in Peru.
German government spokesperson Thomas Steg said Merkel was looking forward to the meeting in Peru and to bilateral talks there, despite Chávez’s comments on Sunday.
The Venezuelan president condemned her for urging Latin American leaders to distance themselves from him and he demonstrably just stopped short of telling her to go to hell.
“She is from the German right, the same that supported Hitler, that supported fascism, that’s the chancellor of Germany today,” he told an audience of military officers and government officials.
Germany’s Steg said Merkel had made clear her position in an interview with German news agency DPA.
“One country alone cannot affect relations between the EU and Latin America in the long run,” Merkel said in the interview. “President Chávez does not speak for Latin America.
Every country has its own voice with which it pursues its own interests,” she added, noting also that Venezuelan voters had rejected his push for wider powers in a referendum.
Chávez has been colourfully disparaging about a number of world leaders, including United States President George Bush, whom he called “the devil”.
As well as attending the Peru summit, Merkel will visit Brazil, Mexico and Columbia on her tour.—Reuters
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