U.S. diplomats discussed efforts to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's influence in Latin America.

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CARACAS, Venezuela — U.S. diplomats discussed efforts to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s influence in Latin America and tried to dissuade Russia from shipping anti-aircraft missiles to his government, according to classified documents released by WikiLeaks.

One secret 2008 document from the U.S. Embassy in Colombia said then-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe urged Washington “to lead a public campaign against Venezuela,” adding that the presidents of countries such as Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica were “natural leaders to counter Chávez.”

The document, dated Jan. 28, 2008, and posted online Friday, was one of several leaked in the past week that discussed efforts to marginalize Chávez internationally and prevent arms shipments.

An earlier secret U.S. memo, from the embassy in Santiago, Chile, on June 18, 2007, showed American officials were analyzing “ways the U.S. can counter Chávez and reassert U.S. leadership in the region.”

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The 2007 report, released Thursday by WikiLeaks, said that if such U.S. efforts are successful, “we will make quick inroads into marginalizing Chávez’s influence.”

A secret Feb. 14, 2009, memo from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said the American government had been raising concerns with Russian officials for four years about a possible sale of weapons, including shoulder-fired Igla-S surface-to-air missiles.


Amazon link: The European websites of online retailer Amazon.com were knocked out for hours Sunday night, the latest attacks in recent days on companies that have stopped doing business with the embattled WikiLeaks organization.

Obama phones allies: President Obama called Mexican President Felipe Calderón on Saturday apparently to placate concern over the leak of diplomatic cables expressing pessimism about Mexico’s war on drugs. Obama also called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the leak of cables questioning how reliable an ally the country was, given its mildly Islamist and anti-Israel government.

Seattle Times news services

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