Venezuela's Chavez calls Dutch defense minister "ridiculous”

Venezuela's Chavez calls Dutch defense minister
Venezuela's Chavez calls Dutch defense minister "ridiculous”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the Dutch defense minister "ridiculous," after accusing the U.S. government of spreading rumors that he is considering invading nearby Dutch islands.

Chavez was responding on Monday to remarks by Netherlands Defense Minister Henk Kamp, who told Dutch lawmakers during a recent parliament debate that Chavez was looking "with big eyes" at Dutch-aligned islands in the Caribbean.

Kamp said, however, there was no immediate threat to the islands and that the Netherlands wanted good relations with Venezuela.

During his radio and television program on Sunday, Chavez said Kamp was being manipulated by the United States.

"He's without a doubt being a pawn of Washington," he said. "It's part of a little campaign, an orchestrated campaign, so that Europe starts shaping the idea that there is tyrant here making plans for invasions of neighboring countries."

Chavez took the issue up again on Monday after a demonstration by pilots flying new military helicopters, calling Kamp "a truly ridiculous man."

The Venezuelan leader has previously suggested the Dutch islands immediately off Venezuela's coast could be used as a launching pad for a U.S. invasion. The islands of Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba are roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Venezuela's coast, while other Dutch Caribbean territories St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius are located farther north.

The islands, most of which are administered as part of the Netherlands Antilles, fall under Dutch military protection.

Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot was quoted as saying in Argentina last week: "There is nothing to indicate any hostile intentions on the part of Venezuela toward the Dutch Kingdom,"reports the AP.


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