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Dutch deny Chavez aggression claim
Chavez asked to explain accusations that The Netherlands was permitting US "aggression".
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2009 14:33 GMT
Chavez claims the US is attempting to surround Venezula by land and sea [AFP]

The Netherlands has denied a claim by Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, that it will allow the US to use islands a few kilometres off Venezuela's coast for military action against Caracas.

Bart Rijs, a foreign ministry spokesman, said on Friday that none of the territories in the Kingdom of the Netherlands - including Aruba and the Netherland Antilles in the Caribbean Sea - had acted "aggressively".

"The sea borders between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Venezuela have been established by treaty between the countries and The Netherlands ... will respect that treaty," the spokesman said.

Rijs said that Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign minister, had asked Venezuela's ambassador to clarify the claims made by Chavez in a speech at the climate summit in Copenhagen on Thursday.

US ties denounced

Chavez told an audience of environmental activisits that an agreement between the Dutch and the US permits Washington to keep 250 airforce crew and ground staff just 24km off the Venezuelan coast.

"I am accusing the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Yankee empire [the United States], of preparing aggression against Venezuela", the president said in remarks broadcast by Venezuelan state television.

US air crews are officially involved in counter-narcotics and surveillance operations, and operations are undertaken from the air by unarmed planes only, the Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said.

Chavez also pointed to the reactivation of the US Navy's Fourth Fleet, which had been disbanded in 1950 but began to patrol the coast of South America earlier this year, as further evidence of a conspiracy to surround his country.

The Venezuelan president's remarks come as political tensions with neighbouring Colombia escalate.

Colombia has agreed to give Washington more access to its military bases, a move Chavez says is designed to threaten his eastern border.

Source:
Agencies
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