December 17, 2008 / 10:21 PM / 11 years ago

Latin leaders joke about Bush shoe attack

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (Reuters) - Latin American leaders meeting in Brazil this week couldn’t resist poking fun at U.S. President George W. Bush over his recent shoe-throwing incident in Iraq.

“Please, nobody take off your shoes,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva joked to reporters at the start of a news conference on Wednesday.

An Iraqi journalist had hurled his shoes at Bush at a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday, calling him a dog.

“In this heat, if anybody takes off their shoes, we’ll know right away because of the smell,” quipped Lula, reaping laughter from reporters and politicians alike.

Earlier in the day, Lula threatened to throw a shoe at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bush’s fiercest critic in Latin America, if the long-winded leftist leader spoke beyond his allotted time.

Officials from 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries burst into laughter at the summit meeting, which showcased the region’s growing independence from Washington and welcomed Communist-run Cuba for the first time.

Even Cuban President Raul Castro, on his first trip abroad since taking over from his ailing brother Fidel earlier this year, was overheard taking a stab at Bush over the shoe affair.

Reporting by Raymond Colitt, editing by Anthony Boadle

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