Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Thursday that his government is free to sell its oil to any country it wishes, although he did not directly answer a question about whether he is shipping fuel to Syria.
Chavez was asked about news reports that Venezuela is selling diesel fuel to Syria, which was condemned on Thursday by the UN General Assembly for its bloody crackdown on government opponents. Chavez is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Have we accepted that anyone impose conditions on us for selling oil to the United States, or anyone else in this world? We’re free,” the Venezuelan leader said.
Chavez did not say whether Venezuela has shipped fuel to Syria, which is under sanctions imposed by the US and other nations.
“Have we asked the United States what it does with the fuel that we take to the United States?” Chavez added. “The greater part of the streets of Washington are paved with Venezuelan asphalt.”
Chavez, who commented while standing with actor Sean Penn at the presidential palace, noted that Venezuela sells large amounts of oil to the US, which remains its largest customer despite years of strained relations.
Chavez has accused the US and its allies of provoking violence in Syria in order to try to oust al-Assad. The Venezuelan leader has said it seems to be a similar pattern to events in Libya that led to the overthrow and killing of former leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Last year, the US government imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.