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Stand firm, Chavez urges Gaddafi

President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela would not recognise the governing body of Libya's rebels, defending Muammar Gaddafi and urging his ally to stand firm against the armed movement aimed at ousting the Libyan leader.

"I respect him a lot," Mr Chavez said, referring to Gaddafi. "He's resisting there. Long live Libya!"

Mr Chavez condemned Nato air strikes in Libya and called the North African nation's rebel National Transitional Council a "group of terrorists".

Addressing Gaddafi, he said: "Live and be victorious. We're with you."

Mr Chavez - one of Latin America's most outspoken critics of Washington's foreign policy - has repeatedly condemned what he calls "indiscriminate bombing" by the United States and its allies in Libya, saying their military attacks are unjustified and will only unleash more bloodshed.

Earlier he said a delegation representing Gaddafi's government was visiting Venezuela, but the self-proclaimed socialist said he was not able to meet the delegates due to his treatment for cancer.

On Monday Mr Chavez, 57, appeared with his head almost shaved, saying his hair has begun to fall out because of his treatment. He said his chemotherapy had been going well and joked about his appearance as he presided over a televised ceremony with cabinet ministers.

"It's a new look," the president said, switching briefly into English with a grin.

Mr Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba on June 20 to remove a cancerous tumour. He has not said what type of cancer he has been diagnosed with or specified where it was located, only that it was in his pelvic region.

He underwent an initial round of chemotherapy last month to prevent malignant cells from reappearing. He said he is "preparing myself for a second dose", but did not say when it would begin.


From Belfast Telegraph