Chavez claims Merkel invite
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has claimed Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited him to Germany, despite German claims to the contrary
Lima -- Leftist populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez continued to brew controversy Friday at a 60-nation summit, claiming German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he had verbally attacked earlier in the week, had invited him to her country.
According to the state Peruvian news agency Andina, Chavez accepted the invitation after shaking hands with the German leader at the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) summit in Peru.
Officials in the German delegation denied Chavez's claim.
Merkel and Chavez have been lobbing verbal bombs at each other in recent days, beginning with Merkel's observation to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Chavez was a leftist populist who does not speak for everyone in Latin America. Chavez retorted that Merkel was in the same political camp as Adolf Hitler.
On Friday, away from the cameras, before and after the formal photo, Merkel and Chavez shook hands twice, and the flamboyant South American leader even told the German chancellor that he did not mean to insult her with his comments, according to sources in the German delegation.
According to Andina, Chavez said he had a witness to Merkel's invitation to Germany: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who stood next to him while getting ready for the group photo, and allegedly heard his conversation with Merkel.
"I am not here to fight. I was pleased to give my hand to her," Andina quoted Chavez as saying. "Cristina was standing next to us, I gave her and the chancellor each a kiss, and said (to Merkel): 'If I expressed myself too strongly, then I apologize. Here is my hand'." DPA