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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday saying he had fallen "martyr" to a "suspect illness".
Ahmadinejad hailed his close ally for "serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values."
"He finally died from a suspect illness and he gave his life... to the elevation of his country and the freedom of his people," Ahmadinejad said in a message of condolences to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
The Iranian president was backing claims made by Maduro shortly before Chavez's death was announced that Venezuela's enemies had somehow afflicted the firebrand leftist with the cancer that eventually killed him.