Morales refused permission to see ailing ally Chavez

Doctors for ailing Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez refused to let Bolivian President Evo Morales see his close ally when he went to Caracas this week, Morales said Wednesday.

"We have been speaking with the doctors -- they tell us he is resting, he is still under treatment," Morales said of his mercy mission to Caracas on Tuesday.

"I wasn't able to meet him, I was only able to meet his head doctor and with his family, but my understanding is that they are very encouraged," he added.

"You must understand that he has gone through the most difficult moments of his life."

The Bolivian president made a special stopover in Caracas on his way to meetings at the UN headquarters in New York. Chavez returned to Venezuela on Monday after several rounds of cancer surgery in Cuba. Widespread fears have been expressed for the life of the radical Latin American leader.

"There are days when his health situation is very difficult, according to the information from his ministers, but now he has returned to Caracas and that is a great relief," Morales said.

"Sometimes disease and illness are difficult to fight, but of course we hope that we will be together soon to be able to continue working together as we have done up to now," added the Bolivian president.

Morales, Chavez and Cuba's veteran leader Fidel Castro, who stood down in 2006 for health reasons, have formed a radical alliance in Latin America, strongly critical of the United States.

"Let me say again how much respect and admiration I have for Fidel and Hugo," Morales said, highlighting support from Chavez and Castro for the left-wing policies he pursued after becoming president in 2006.

"It really does pain me that Fidel Castro is no longer president, particularly now that my brother President Chavez is in a very difficult spot with his health.

"Both of them told me, 'Evo, you have to look after yourself, you have to rest'. They were telling me to rest and I was not listening to them, but now I see that they were not resting either," Morales said.

Chavez has not been seen in public since he left for Havana on December 10 for the latest surgery. On Friday, the government released photos of Chavez bedridden but smiling.