EU head hails Chavez's social leadership

European Union head Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday hailed Venezuela's "stand-out" social development policies, as he sent his condolences following the announcement of the death of President Hugo Chavez.

"Venezuela has stood out for its social development and for its contribution to South America's regional integration," Van Rompuy said in a joint statement with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso.

"The European Union has received with sadness the news of the passing away of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez," the two men said.

"Hoping to deepen our relationship in the future, we would like to send our sincere condolences and sympathy to the people and the government of Venezuela," they added.

Chavez died Tuesday aged 58 after a long battle with cancer.