Venezuela is ready for rapprochement with the United States, President Hugo Chavez (pictured) said on Saturday, as Venezuelans prepare to vote in a referendum on whether to allow elected officials to run for unlimited terms.
AFP - Venezuela is ready to "start a process of rapprochement" with the United States, President Hugo Chavez said Saturday, calling on US President Barack Obama to avoid "resembling his predecessor."
Chavez, who had famously tense relations with former president George W. Bush, spoke on the eve of a vote on scrapping electoral term limits in which he hopes to win the chance for another decade of rule.
"We're ready any day to start a rapprochement process," Chavez told a news conference.
"We have the best wishes for at least returning to the level of relations we had with (former US president) Bill Clinton, which weren't easy but were bearable."
"If only Obama doesn't start to resemble Bush," Chavez added.
The Latin American leftist champion confirmed he would attend an Americas summit in April in Trinidad and Tobago, where the two leaders could have a first face-to-face meeting.
US-Venezuelan relations took a turn for the worse in September when they expelled their respective ambassadors, following complaints that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were provided sanctuary in Venezuela.
Chavez denied recent accusations by the new US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair that Venezuela continued to support the FARC, and that it was a bridge for Iran in Latin America.
"We're not going to kneel before anyone," added the president of the oil-rich OPEC nation.
"We don't depend on good or bad relations with the government of the United States to advance and succeed."
The United States is Venezuela's main oil customer, with exports of 1.23 million barrels per day of crude and derivatives in November 2008, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Date created : 2009-02-15