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Spanish FM cancels Lieberman meeting for Chavez

JERUSALEM  (JTA) — Spain’s foreign minister canceled a meeting with his Israeli counterpart to hold talks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Miguel Moratinos cut short a two-day trip to Israel Thursday in order to return to Madrid for the meeting with Chavez, a major critic of the Jewish state, the next day.

Chavez moved his visit to the afternoon instead of the evening, necessitating Moratinos’ cancellation of his meeting with Avigdor Lieberman, Ha’aretz quoted a Moratinos aide as saying. Moratinos also nixed scheduled talks with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.

The ministers will meet in New York during the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Chavez, along with his harsh rhetoric on Israel — he said Wednesday in a French newspaper that Israelis are “openly” assassinating Palestinians — has cultivated ties with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier and Israel basher.

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