U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte has singled out Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for criticism during a hearing on homeland security.

Negroponte told a Senate committee Tuesday that Mr. Chavez is seeking closer military and economic ties with Iran and North Korea.

Negroponte also said Mr. Chavez is expected to deepen his relationship with Fidel Castro, president of communist Cuba and an outspoken critic of President Bush. He added that Venezuela has recently scaled back its counternarcotics cooperation with the United States.

Negroponte also accused Mr. Chavez of spending millions of dollars on what he termed an extravagant foreign policy, at the expense of the Venezuelan people. He said Mr. Chavez is investing considerable sums of money in politics in other Latin American countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.