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World News

No talks planned for Spanish prince and Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) talks with Spanish Prince Felipe inside the Uruguayan Congress while attending the swearing-in of Jorge Batlle as the country's new president, March 1. Prince Felipe has no plans to hold a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez after King Juan Carlos publicly told the Venezuelan leader to "shut up", Spain's deputy prime minister said on Friday. RR/HB

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe has no plans to hold a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez after King Juan Carlos publicly told the Venezuelan leader to “shut up”, Spain’s deputy prime minister said on Friday.

Spain’s foreign ministry had said on Wednesday there might be an informal encounter between Chavez and the prince when the two attend a swearing-in ceremony for Argentina’s new president this weekend.

Chavez has demanded the Spanish king apologise for his outburst and on Wednesday said Prince Felipe would deliver a personal message from his father when they met in Buenos Aires.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega said there had been no request for a meeting nor would there be any special encounter between the prince and Chavez.

“There may be a protocol greeting, nothing more. There is no request,” De la Vega said after a cabinet meeting, when asked by a reporter if the prince had asked to meet Chavez.

King Juan Carlos’s outburst against Chavez came after the populist leader repeatedly called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a “fascist” at a summit in Chile last month.

Chavez, who has often insulted world leaders in public, responded by saying he would review the Venezuelan holdings of Spanish businesses.

In a sign the dispute was easing, Chavez on Wednesday said he “welcomed” a message the king had sent congratulating him for Sunday’s peaceful constitutional reform referendum.

Chavez lost the referendum by a narrow margin.

Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Stephen Weeks

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