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Chavez Faces Setbacks in Pipeline Plans

President Hugo Chavez has long been angling to join the South American trade bloc Mercosur and win support for his proposal to build a natural gas pipeline across the continent. But Venezuela's cornerstone projects are running into resistance even among his allies, and analysts say the setbacks have come in part because countries such as Brazil want to maintain strong economic ties with Washington.

On Wednesday, Chavez accused the United States of undermining Venezuela's bid to enter Mercosur and of causing delays in plans for a vast gas pipeline stretching from Venezuela to Argentina.

"I'm sure these difficulties are the product of the empire's actions," he said during a televised speech.

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