World Bulletin/News Desk
President Hugo Chavez denied on Friday that Venezuela was a threat to anyone, after U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for playing down the risk posed by the socialist leader.
Obama told a Spanish-language television station in an interview screened this week that Chavez's actions over recent years had not had a serious impact on the national security of the United States.
Romney said Obama's comments were "stunning and shocking" and showed a pattern of weakness in the Democratic president's foreign policy.
In an interview with a local Venezuelan television station on Friday, Chavez dismissed the allegations he posed any danger.
"The Venezuela of today is no threat to anyone," he said.
"It has all been a hoax by the imperialists and global far right: that uranium is being enriched in Venezuela, that we're setting up missiles here, that we're supporting terrorism."
Whenever there were efforts to improve relations between Washington and Caracas, Chavez said, they were criticized by powerful "snipers" who issued threats in the U.S. media.
Late last year Obama told a Venezuelan newspaper the United States had no intention of intervening in Venezuela's foreign relations - but he believed the government's ties with Iran and Cuba had not benefited the Venezuelan people.
With both Chavez and Obama running for re-election this year, Chavez struck a conciliatory tone, saying the latest comments by his U.S. counterpart needed to seen in context.
"Obama is campaigning. He's a candidate. I hope the real revolutionaries understand well. I think that Barack Obama - aside from 'the president' - is a good guy," he said.
Chavez is trying to appeal to the third of Venezuelans who may not have decided yet who to vote for in the Oct. 7 election, when he will seek a new six-year term despite undergoing three cancer operations in Cuba over the last year.
That means being more moderate. Chavez also cited his friendship with Juan Manuel Santos, the conservative leader of neighboring Colombia, as proof of his benign influence on Latin American affairs.
"The president of Colombia has said it, twice: Chavez is a factor of stability for the region, a factor of peace, a facilitator of integration. That is Chavez's role."
Obama's campaign team has accused Romney, the likely Republican nominee in the Nov. 6 election, of playing into the Venezuelan president's hands by giving him the international attention he wanted.
Chavez frequently lauds Fidel Castro's communist-led revolution in Cuba, and Romney's comments could cheer Cuban-American voters in Florida, where many oppose Castro and Chavez.
There was a window to improve ties between Caracas and Washington after Obama took office in 2009 and promised more engagement with foes. Chavez toned down his tirades against the "Yankee empire" and shook hands with Obama at a summit.
But within months, Chavez said the U.S. leader was disillusioning the world by following his predecessor George W. Bush's foreign policies, and he cranked up his rhetoric again.
On Friday, Chavez said Obama's troubles began with that handshake. "They fell on him: saying he's a socialist, a communist. ... The personal war against Obama started, including looking for a way to get him out of office by any means."
That vote, scheduled to take place at about 5:00 pm (2100 GMT), would not end the nomination, but would put a negative recommendation in the hands of the closely-divided full Senate -- where his approval is not guaranteed.
The company said in a message to customers that the attack was detected on January 14, at a time when the app had 14 million users in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, according to the economic news website Arabian Business.
We hope everyone remains fully committed to implementation and long-term preservation, says UN under-secretary-general
Obama, who met with Mandela in 2005 and who made an emotional address at his funeral, will speak at the lecture marking 100 years since the anti-apartheid icon was born.
A total of 41 Gazans have been martyred by Israeli gunfire since March 30
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL positions in Syria
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL locations in neighboring Syria
Turkish Historical Society head cites research from past wars
Palestinian president stresses on 2-state solution to conflict, calls East Jerusalem capital
Israeli snipers have killed 39 protesters and injured thousands who posed no threat, says Swiss-based group
Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to address UN General Assembly on Turkey’s contributions, approach to UN efforts
At least 39 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire near Gaza border
Serbia's ambassador to Ankara says 5 government ministers will accompany Serbian president
He acted quickly -- just a day after decades of Castro rule ended and long time party loyalist Miguel Diaz-Canel assumed power as president.
Multimillion-dollar lawsuit raises issue of hacking of Democratic National Committee’s servers