Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he will pull his country out of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Mr. Chavez accused the two Washington-based lenders Sunday of being tools of what he calls American "imperialism." He also accuses the agencies of perpetuating poverty in Latin America by forcing governments to implement tough economic reforms.

Mr. Chavez's announcement is mostly symbolic because his government has already paid off its debts to both the World Bank and the IMF.

The Venezuelan president plans to set up a new lending institution run by Latin American nations called the "Bank of the South." The agency would be funded partly by Venezuelan oil revenues, and would lend money for state projects across the region.

Venezuela is one of several Latin American nations to distance themselves from international lenders in recent years. Others include Ecuador, Nicaragua and Argentina.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.