Hugo Chavez accused the Netherlands on Thursday night of allowing the United States to use Dutch islands off Venezuela's Caribbean coast to prepare a possible military attack against his country.
The Venezuelan leader said the US military has sent intelligence agents, warships and spy planes to Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire - self-governing Dutch islands - in order to prepare for a possible offensive.
"They are three islands in Venezuela's territorial waters, but they are still under an imperial regime: The Netherlands," Chavez said during a speech at a climate change conference in Denmark. "Europe should know that the North American empire is filling these islands with weapons, assassins, American intelligence units, and spy planes and war ships."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly denied that US military personnel in the Caribbean are planning to attack Venezuela. "These allegations are baseless. These are routine exercises," he said.