Venezuela blames US for Georgia-Russia conflict

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the United States of masterminding the current conflict between Georgia and Russia. A statement from Chavez's government Thursday alleged that the conflict was "planned, prepared and ordered" by Washington in an "incitement of violence." Venezuela is a close ally of Russia, which it says has acted to protect local residents from "unacceptable acts of violence" perpetrated by Georgian troops. Venezuela's statement saluted steps toward peace in South Ossetia, saying Russia's stance had been in line with international accords.