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Venezuelan Leader Hails Obama's Nuclear-Free Vision


Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's call for a world free of nuclear weapons.

President Chavez told reporters in Tokyo Tuesday that Mr. Obama's message was very encouraging.

But he said the U.S. should also apologize to Japan for dropping atomic weapons on the country at the end of World War II.

Mr. Chavez said Venezuela is observing and evaluating the new Obama administration, and that in the framework of respect, dialogue is possible.

The comments signaled a softened stance toward the new U.S. leader, who Mr. Chavez previously called ignorant for accusing Venezuela of exporting terrorism.

Mr. Chavez was a harsh critic of Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. The Venezuelan leader said he had a problem with Mr. Bush, not the United States.

Mr. Chavez traveled to Japan to discuss energy cooperation. He said the countries signed an agreement for Japan to invest $33.5 billion in oil and gas projects in Venezuela.

Mr. Chavez travels next to China, where he is hoping to secure more oil contracts to reduce Venezuela's dependency on the U.S.

The U.S. is currently Venezuela's top oil customer, despite the political tensions.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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