April 7, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Sunday accused the United States of delaying delivery of spare parts for his country's F-16 fighter planes as he looks to other countries for arms and military supplies.
The charges are the latest broadside against Washington from Chavez, a left-wing former army officer who often clashes with the United States over his rule in the world's No. 5 oil exporter.
Chavez, whose anti-capitalist stance and close ties to Cuban leader Fidel Castro raised concerns in Washington, said Venezuela
would not accept conditions to maintain its squadron of U.S.-made aircraft.
A U.S. Embassy official in Caracas had no immediate comment on Chavez's charges.
Venezuela recently agreed to buy 100,000 automatic rifles and 40 military helicopters from Russia and is studying whether to purchase Russian MiG-29 fighters to replace its F-16s.