Oil Report

RPT-Venezuela says German spat threatens bilateral ties

(Refiles to fix typo in Colombia in last paragraph)

CARACAS, May 13 (Reuters) - Germany’s criticism of President Hugo Chavez threatens bilateral relations, Venezuela said on Tuesday, after the leftist president called Chancellor Angela Merkel a political descendant of Adolf Hitler.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry struck out at comments made by center-right Merkel last week in which she said Chavez, an outspoken critic of capitalism, did not speak for Latin America.

“Her statements do not only disturb bilateral relations, but also cast doubts on the intention of the German government to strengthen friendly ties with all Latin America and Caribbean countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

Oil wealthy Venezuela is a leading member of South America’s mostly left-wing governments. Allies like emerging economic giant Brazil often are less vocal in their criticism of rich nations such as the United States.

Merkel, who may run into Chavez at a summit of Latin American and European leaders in Peru later this week, had told the Germany news agency DPA that Chavez would not affect relations between the two regions.

He responded by saying reunited Germany’s first woman chancellor represented a right-wing tradition that had supported Nazi dictator Hitler.

The ministry on Tuesday accused Germany of “meddling” and said Venezuela was not a “factor of disturbance” in Latin America, Europe or the world.

“Chancellor Merkel is not the only voice of the European Union,” the ministry said. “One single country will not be able to disturb relations between Venezuela and the European Union, or biregional relations.”

Chavez has been colorfully rude about a number of world leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush, who he called “the devil.”

As well as attending the Peru summit, Merkel will visit Brazil, Mexico and Colombia on a tour of Latin America. (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Bill Trott)