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Chávez Discusses Mediation with Qaddafi, Begins Uniting Latin American Allies for Peace Committee

President Hugo Chávez believes there can be a peaceful solution to Libya's crisis and he wants to mediate a way out before, he says, the United States invades the nation.

Chávez has spoken with Muammar Qaddafi about creating a bloc of friendly countries to help mediate a resolution to Libya's crisis, Venezuela's information minister said Wednesday.

Venezuela's president, who has forged close ties with Qaddafi and refused to condemn him for his crackdown on protesters, spoke with the Libyan leader on Tuesday, Information Minister Andrés Izarra said through Twitter.

Venezuela has already reached out to its allies in Latin America and beyond to discuss the creation of a friendly bloc of nations — dubbed the Committee of Peace — to mediate the crisis.

Venezuelan officials did not say how Qaddafi had responded to the proposal.

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Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro said the creation of such a bloc could help resolve the conflict in Libya, adding that his government felt diplomacy — rather than military threats — should be used to end the violence sweeping the North African nation.

Maduro criticized U.S. and European Union officials for adopting policies aimed at isolating Qaddafi and raising the possibility of providing military support to Libyans rebelling against the embattled leader.

Such policies "point at giving the empire authorization for an invasion against the Libyan people," Maduro said, according to the state-run AVN news agency.

Chávez — who shares a mutual opposition to Washington with Qaddafi — has said he won't cave into international pressure to condemn Qaddafi and he has warned that Washington is preparing a military invasion of Libya.

"Hopefully in the coming days we could create a committee of friendly countries that go to talk with the government of Col. Qaddafi as well as the opposition that his taken up arms in some regions," Maduro said.

In a speech to chanting and clapping supporters in Tripoli on Wednesday, Qaddafi lashed out against Europe and the United States for their pressure on him to step down, warning that "thousands of Libyans will die" if U.S. and NATO forces intervene in the conflict.

Chávez has built close ties with Libya and visited the Arab country several times.

Qaddafi awarded Chávez in 2004 with the Libyan leader's annual human rights prize for battling "the effects of imperialism and the enemies of freedom inside and outside" Venezuela.

During a visit last year to Venezuela, Qaddafi pitched his tent outside a hotel during a summit of African and Latin American leaders. Qaddafi also received a special gift from Chávez: a replica of the sword that once belonged to Venezuela's 19th-century independence hero, Simon Bolivar.

Venezuela's opposition has strongly criticized Chávez for his close relationship to Qaddafi.

Earlier this week, a coalition of opposition parties warned that Chávez's failure to take a stand against Qaddafi's violent crackdown is smearing Venezuela's reputation abroad. Opposition politician Gustavo Azocar demanded that Chávez ask Qaddafi to return the replica of Bolivar's sword, saying the government should explain why it "gave the sword of the Liberator, Simon Bolivar, to an assassin like Qaddafi."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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