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China Daily Website

Venezuela open to improved ties with US

Updated: 2013-02-19 09:39
( China Daily/Agencies)

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said on Sunday that President Hugo Chavez has asked his diplomats to seek improved relations with the United States.

Caracas has had a rocky relationship with Washington for years, but the US remains the top buyer of oil from Venezuela.

"We want to have a good relationship with the United States, but we are not desperate," said Jaua, speaking in an interview broadcast on the local Televen TV channel.

The US Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010 when Chavez rejected the US nominee for ambassador, accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about Venezuela's government. That led Washington to revoke the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador.

Jaua said Chavez wants Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States, Roy Chaderton, to talk with officials in Washington about the possibility of restoring ambassadors to embassies in both countries.

"It's an effort that President Chavez has asked us to continue making," Jaua said.

But Jaua noted that Venezuela is not in a hurry to have a US envoy in Caracas, saying, "We have learned to live without a US ambassador."

Since taking office in 1999, Chavez has regularly accused US officials of conspiring against his government and criticized Washington's foreign policy.

US officials have for years questioned Chavez's democratic ideals and criticized Venezuela's efforts against drug trafficking as inadequate.

Chavez counters that democratic freedoms have increased under his rule and has accused US officials of manipulating the drug issue for political purposes to discredit his government.