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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chavez Seeks African Leaders Help

PORLAMAR (Venezuela), Sept 26: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosted some of Africa’s longest-serving leaders at a sleek Caribbean resort on Saturday for a summit he said would help end US and European economic dominance. High-profile guests included Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi, who is celebrating four decades in office and had a white limousine flown to Venezuela to meet him at the airport, and 85-year-old Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since leading it from British colonialism nearly 30 years back.

Chavez has governed for just over 10 years and makes no bones about his aim to stay in office for decades more while he works to turn Venezuela into a socialist state. He said the two-day meeting of African and South American leaders, which includes many recently elected presidents, would help the mainly poor nations build stronger trade ties and rely less on Europe and the United States.

Chavez said Europe and the United States were empires that had imposed poverty on much of the world.

“We are going to create two great poles of power,” he told reporters at the luxury Hilton resort on Venezuela’s Margarita island late on Friday. “We are seeking a world with no more imperialism where we will be free, uniting to escape poverty.”

The presidents of Brazil and South Africa also attended the summit.

Their model of business-friendly economics mixed with a focus on the poor is more popular among many African countries than Chavez’s radical message.

Some analysts say the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as BRIC nations, could eclipse the economies of the world’s richest countries by 2050.

The leaders at the summit were likely to agree on supporting stronger links between the two continents and calling for reform of global institutions like the United Nations and World Bank to give poor countries more clout.

Qadhafi, whose entourage arrived in two matching Airbus passenger jets and pitched a large Bedouin tent beside the Hilton’s pool, on Wednesday told the United Nations that big powers had betrayed the UN charter with their vetoes and sanctions.

King Mswati III of Swaziland, who was crowned in 1987, was also due to appear on Margarita, along with the leaders of Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Algeria, among others.

In total, 28 African and South American leaders are expected to attend the meeting.—Reuters

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