Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced Israel as a “genocidal” government on Sunday as he hosted Syrian President Bashar Assad on his first visit to Latin America.
Chavez has drawn close to Syria and Iran and cut ties with Israel last year to protest its military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
“We have common enemies ... the Yankee empire, the genocidal state of Israel,” Chavez said.
He had particularly strong words for Israel throughout Assad’s visit. He reiterated his view on Saturday that the Golan Heights — captured from Syria by Israel 1967 — should one day be returned to Syria.
“Someday the genocidal state of Israel will be put in its place, in the proper place and hopefully a real democratic state will be born,” Chavez said on Saturday. “But it has become the murderous arm of the Yankee empire — who can doubt it? — which threatens all of us.”
Assad on Sunday called Israel a state “based on crime, slaughter.”
“It’s a state without limits,” he said through an interpreter.
He praised Chavez for standing up to the US and supporting the Palestinians. Chavez’s outspoken stances in favor of Iran and against Israel have given him a following in the Middle East, and Assad referred to him at one point as an “Arab leader.”
The two allies spoke to an audience of Syrian immigrants at a Caracas hotel on Sunday before Assad left for Cuba, where he did not speak to reporters upon his arrival at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.