US warplane violated Venezuelan airspace: Chavez

Caracas, Jan 9 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said a US military aircraft had violated the country's airspace for 15 minutes before being intercepted and driven out by two Venezuelan F-16s.

Chavez said the aircraft had flown from the Netherlands Antilles' island of Curacao, and was escorted out of Venezuelan airspace, but later returned for 19 more minutes.

"They are warplanes used for the imperial war, not - as (the US) claims - specialised aircraft to combat drug trafficking," he said during a cabinet meeting Friday.

"We are watching them. We even know the name of the pilot. It is a warplane that took off from Curacao and we aren't making anything up. We are speaking the truth when we tell Holland what we're saying."

Chavez accused the Dutch government of allowing its "colonial territories of Aruba and Curacao to be utilised against Venezuela".

"We made contact with the plane, and didn't allow ourselves to fall into a trap of being provoked. I told our pilots to make it known that there is dignity here," he said.

Chavez accused the US and Dutch governments of trying to provoke Venezuela and create an excuse to attack the country militarily. (dpa)