Chavez and Jesus will return together: Ahmadinejad
WASHINGTON - TEHRAN
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday saying he had fallen "martyr" to a "suspect illness".
Ahmadinejad hailed his close ally for "serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values." "He finally died from a suspect illness and he gave his life... to the elevation of his country and the freedom of his people," Ahmadinejad said in a message of condolences to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
The Iranian president was backing claims made by Maduro shortly before Chavez's death was announced that Venezuela's enemies had somehow afflicted the firebrand leftist with the cancer that eventually killed him.
"I have no doubt that he will return, along with the righteous Jesus and the perfect human." The last was a reference to Shiite Islam's 12th imam that Iran's majority faith believes will return with Christ to bring peace and justice to the world.
EU head hails Chavez's social leadership
European Union head Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday hailed Venezuela's "stand-out" social development policies, as he sent his condolences following the announcement of the death of President Hugo Chavez.
"Venezuela has stood out for its social development and for its contribution to South America's regional integration," Van Rompuy said in a joint statement with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso.
"The European Union has received with sadness the news of the passing away of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez," the two men said.
"Hoping to deepen our relationship in the future, we would like to send our sincere condolences and sympathy to the people and the government of Venezuela," they added.
Chavez a 'great leader and great friend': China
China described the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a "great friend of the Chinese people" on Wednesday, promising to maintain ties with the petroleum-rich South American country.
Chavez, known for his leftist policies, sought close relations with Beijing's Communist authorities in a bid to reduce his country's dependence on the United States, and Venezuela now sells some 640,000 barrels of oil a day to China.
In turn, Beijing has extended at least $30 billion in credit to Caracas.
President Hu Jintao and soon-to-be-installed leader Xi Jinping had sent personal messages of condolence to Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro following the 58-year-old leader's death from cancer, she added.
"Venezuela is an important country in the region and also a good friend of China," she said at a regular briefing in Beijing.
"He was an uncommon and strong man who looked into the future and always set the highest target for himself," Putin said in a telegram of condolence, thanking Chavez for laying the "solid basis" for Russia-Venezuela relations.
Brazil's Rousseff says Chavez death 'irreparable loss'
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday that Hugo Chavez's death was "an irreparable loss" and hailed him as a "great Latin American" and "a friend of the Brazilian people." Rousseff led a minute of silence in honor of the dead Venezuelan leader at a meeting in Brasilia, and said she was canceling a trip to Argentina scheduled for Thursday.
Putin hails Chavez as 'uncommon, strong man'
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed his late Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez as an uncommon and strong man who had made a huge contribution to relations between Moscow and Caracas.
Obama: US supports Venezuelan people after Chavez death
President Barack Obama Tuesday said the United States was interested in a "constructive" future relationship with Venezuela after the death of President Hugo Chavez, a long-time American foe.
"As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights," Obama said in a short written statement.
British foreign minister Hague "saddened" by Chavez death
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "saddened" by the death of Hugo Chavez on Tuesday, saying the Venezuelan President had left a "lasting impression" on his people.
"I was saddened to learn of the death of President Hugo Chavez today," Hague said in a statement issued by the Foreign Office. "As President of Venezuela for 14 years he has left a lasting impression on the country and more widely." The foreign minister offered his condolences to the bereaved Chavez family and to the Venezuelan people.
Chavez lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, silencing the leading voice of the Latin American left and plunging his divided oil-rich nation into an uncertain future.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who struggled to hold back tears as he announced Chavez's death, said the government had deployed the armed forces and police "to accompany and protect our people and guarantee the peace."