TRIPOLI, Libya -- Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has criticized President Barack Obama for saying that Caracas must abide by international rules governing nuclear energy as it looks to build a reactor.

Chavez says Venezuela doesn't "obey any empire" and has the right to peacefully develop nuclear power.

The Venezuelan president spoke Saturday in Libya where he received an honorary degree from Tripoli's Academy of Higher Education.

His comments come in response to remarks Obama made Tuesday. The U.S. leader said Venezuela has the right to a peaceful nuclear program but also an obligation not to pursue atomic weapons.

Chavez met with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and other officials while in Tripoli to sign economic cooperation agreements. Details of the accords were not immediately available.