CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sent him a letter thanking his allies in Latin America for their staunch support.
Chavez read aloud portions of the letter on national television. He also said Venezuela would not recognize the governing body of Libya's rebels, and he urged Gadhafi to stand firm in his fight.
"I respect him a lot," Chavez said, referring to Gadhafi. "He's resisting there. Long live Libya!"
Reading from a translation of the letter, which was written in Arabic, Chavez said Gadhafi told him: "I highly value your noble positions in support of the Libyan people, as well as the leaders and revolutionaries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope to count on that support continuing."
Chavez condemned NATO airstrikes in Libya and called the North African nation's rebel National Transitional Council a "group of terrorists." He questioned how the U.S. and European nations could recognize such a group, and asked what world powers would do if a similar rebellion were to erupt in Spain or the United States.
"How hypocritical of the empire," Chavez said, referring to the U.S. government. At another point in his televised speech, Chavez joked that due to the U.S. government's budget problems, President Barack Obama might need a loan.
Addressing Gadhafi, Chavez said: "Live and be victorious. We're with you."
Chavez has repeatedly condemned the involvement of foreign militaries in Libya, saying their attacks are unjustified and will only unleash more bloodshed.
Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said Gadhafi's letter was brought to Venezuelan by a Libyan emissary, Abdul Hafid Al Zleitni. It said he was accompanied by another Libyan official, Mohamed Zydan.
Chavez said he was not able to meet with the delegates due to his treatment for cancer. He said he instructed his foreign minister to respond to Gadhafi's message right away.