May 9, 2009 / 12:53 AM / 10 years ago

Venezuela's Chavez slams Obama for Afghan attack

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday slammed U.S. President Barack Obama for air strikes in Afghanistan that killed scores of civilians, criticism that came weeks after the leaders shook hands in a sign of warming ties.

Afghan officials said 147 civilians died as a result of attacks by U.S. warships on Taliban militants this week.

Chavez, a socialist, has welcomed Obama’s efforts to improve ties after a decade-long war of words between Caracas and Washington, but he accuses the new U.S. leader of maintaining an “imperialist” foreign policy.

“President Obama, let’s see if it’s true, take apart the forces of imperialism and end the abuse of innocent peoples of the world,” Chavez said during a televised speech.

Chavez and Obama met at a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders in Trinidad last month, shaking hands in a highly publicized encounter. The move drew praise for Obama from Latin American leaders but harsh condemnation from U.S. conservatives.

Venezuela and the United States have had a tense relationship for years, even though Venezuela accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. oil imports.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Paul Simao

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