Chavez 'ready' to meet Bush

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has expressed readiness to meet his US counterpart George Bush for improving strained ties between the two countries.

    The Venezuelan president is a biter critic of US policies

    Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jesus Perez on Wednesday said Chavez – whose victory in the 15 August recall poll renewed his mandate to rule – would travel to the United States to attend the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

     

    The minister said Chavez was "ready to talk to anyone" to address differences between Venezuela and its biggest oil client, the United States.

    Bitter ties

    Relations between the two have been strained by the US-criticism of the left-wing president’s rule and Chavez’s own attacks on US policies.

     

    But "nothing concrete" was planned so far for a meeting with Bush, Perez said.

     

    "Let’s hope somebody can help us to clear up a series of doubts in our relations…that we can talk to each other face to face," the foreign minister said.

    “Let’s hope somebody can help us to clear up a series of doubts in our relations…that we can talk to each other face to face”

    Jesus Perez
    Venezuela's foreign minister


    Perez said prospects for a high-level meeting has improved after Washington recognized the result of the recall referendum, in which Chavez won 59% of the vote to defeat an opposition bid to unseat him.

    "The picture that…President Bush’s administration should have is that the only guarantee of democracy in Venezuela at this moment is President Chavez," Perez said.

     

    Since he first won elections in 1998, Chavez has annoyed the US government by forging a close friendship with Cuba’s Communist President Fidel Castro and attacking Washington’s foreign and trade policies as ‘imperialist’.

    Chavez has also accused Bush of backing opposition efforts to topple him.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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