November 22, 2007 / 4:22 PM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX:Venezuela Chavez's loose lips spark diplomatic spats

(Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is notorious for indiscreet and sometimes inflammatory comments that have triggered diplomatic disputes.

The following are some of the most prominent incidents in which Chavez’s comments have sparked flaps:

* Colombia’s government on Wednesday ended Chavez’s role as a mediator with leftist rebels aimed at freeing hostages after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe complained the Venezuelan overstepped his mandate.

Colombia said Chavez had talked by telephone with a military chief about the hostages despite an agreement with Uribe not to do so. The Uribe government also said Chavez had publicly disclosed information he had learned in private conversations.

* On November 10, Chavez called a former Spanish prime minister a “fascist” at a summit in Chile, prompting King Juan Carlos to tell him to “shut up” when he interrupted a speech by current Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero.

Chavez responded by promising to review relations with Spain, warning that Spanish businesses with investments in Venezuela could suffer as a result of the diplomatic dispute.

* In a 2006 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Chavez called U.S. President George W. Bush “the devil.”

U.S. Democrats and Republicans alike condemned the insult. Diplomats also said the slur cost Venezuela its bid that year for a U.N. Security Council seat, which would have given Chavez a major platform for his leftist anti-U.S. rhetoric.

* In 2005, Venezuela and Mexico withdrew their ambassadors after Chavez called Mexico’s then president, Vicente Fox, a “lap dog of the empire,” in reference to the conservative president’s close ties to the Bush administration.

The two countries only sent ambassadors back to each other’s capitals earlier this year.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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