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Chavez names new ambassador to Washington

IN a new effort to improve relations with Washington, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said yesterday he has designated a candidate for the ambassador to the United States.

"I've spoken to Roy Chanderton that I nominated him as a candidate for the ambassador to the United States," Chavez told reporters in Port of Spain, where he and other American leaders, including US President Barack Obama, were gathering for the 5th Summit of the Americas.

Chanderton had served as Venezuela's foreign minister, and currently is the country's ambassador to the Organization of American States.

Earlier yesterday, Chavez met with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss a possible normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The meeting was focused on the opportunity to exchange ambassadors between the two countries, Chavez told Venezuelan state television later.

At the three-day Americas summit, the US-Venezuela relations seemed to have been turning warm.

On Friday evening, Chavez and Obama exchanged greetings and shook hands with smile before the inaugural session of the summit. "I want to be your friend," said Chavez in his first face-to-face meeting with Obama since the US president took office in January.

Yesterday morning, Chavez presented Obama a book titled "The Open Veins of Latin America" by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. Reports here said talks between the two leaders during the all-day summit were "relaxed and natural."

The US-Venezuela relations have been tense in recent years. In September 2008, Chavez ordered the expulsion of the US ambassador, in solidarity with the Bolivian government's decision to expel the US ambassador in La Paz.

In retaliation, the Bush administration ordered the expulsion of the Venezuelan ambassador in Washington.


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