May 16, 2008 / 9:27 PM / 11 years ago

Chavez apologizes to Merkel over Hitler remarks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez as they leave the official photo session of the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Summit (EU-Latam) in Lima, May 16, 2008. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace

LIMA (Reuters) - Days after calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel a political descendant of Adolf Hitler, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez shook hands with her on Friday and apologized.

“I haven’t come here to fight. I was pleased to shake hands with the German chancellor,” Chavez was quoted as saying at a summit of European and Latin American leaders in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

“I told her that I was sorry if I’d been harsh,” he said, according to Peru’s state news agency Andina.

Photographs showed the two smiling as they shook hands while heads of state mingled at the gathering dedicated to tackling poverty and climate change.

Merkel, a conservative, had sought to play down the spat before her arrival in Lima, saying she would greet all delegates courteously.

Earlier this week, Chavez made his Hitler comments after Merkel implied the leftist leader had harmed relations between Europe and Latin America.

Chavez routinely insults conservative leaders, especially U.S. President George W. Bush, calling him the devil.

During a summit in Chile late last year, Spain’s king told the socialist leader to “shut up.”

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Terry Wade and John O'Callaghan

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