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(photo credit: AP [file])
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday called US President Barack Obama "ignorant," saying he has a lot to learn about Latin America.
The Venezuelan leader said he had been ready to name a new ambassador in Washington when Obama took office, but put that on hold after the new US president accused him of "exporting terrorism" and being an obstacle to progress in the region.
"At least one could say, 'poor ignorant person,'" Chavez said on his weekly television and radio program, adding that Obama "should read a little bit so that he learns about ... the reality of Latin America."
US National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer declined to comment on Chavez's statements.
Chavez's relations with Washington grew increasingly strained under former US president George W. Bush. The Venezuelan president expelled the US ambassador and withdrew his envoy from Washington in September. Top diplomats have yet to be restored at either embassy.
Chavez and Obama both plan to attend a summit of leaders from across the Americas next month in Trinidad and Tobago. There, Chavez said he will make a case for Cuba to be included in regional talks, saying "we can no longer continue to accept the impositions of the US empire."
"We ask only for respect for Venezuela, nothing else," Chavez said. "If Obama respects us, we'll respect him. If Obama tries to keep disrespecting Venezuela, we will confront the US empire."
Chavez said he showed some of the US administration's critical remarks about him to US Rep. William Delahunt when the Massachusetts Democrat visited Caracas last week.
"They keep pointing to me as the bad boy, as the one who attacks," Chavez said. "Who started the attack first? Obama."