Chavez says US wants to kill him

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“If they kill me, the name of the person responsible is [President] George Bush,” Mr Chavez said.

Mr Chavez – who offered no evidence to back his claim – said any attempt on his life would backfire and threatened to cut off oil supplies to America.

Washington blames Mr Chavez of being heavy-handed towards Venezuela’s opposition, and has recently criticised Caracas for arms purchases from Russia.

Diplomatic ties between Washington and Caracas have soured since Mr Chavez came to power in 1999.