Chavez Urges Bush To Ask Pardon for Iraq Sins From Pope

Yahoo News

Mon May 17,11:26 AM ET

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) should kneel before Pope John Paul (news - web sites) and ask for forgiveness for abuses committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq (news - web sites), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says.

In his latest jibe against the U.S. leader, the outspoken left-wing Venezuelan president urged Bush to use his planned visit to the Vatican (news - web sites) on June 4 to announce the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"Even though he's not a Catholic ... he should ask God's forgiveness at the Vatican ... go down on his knees in front of the Pope and ask for the forgiveness of the world, not just the Iraqi people," Chavez told a news conference Friday in Caracas.

While he criticized the actions of U.S. troops, the Venezuelan leader also condemned as "a horror" the decapitation of U.S. businessman Nick Berg by Islamic militants in Iraq.

He made the comments after noting that senior Vatican officials had criticized the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers which has caused an international scandal.

Over the last few months, Chavez has repeatedly condemned Bush for waging the war in Iraq. He called the U.S. president a "jerk" earlier this year and accuses his administration of seeking to topple him, a charge denied by Washington.