Venezuela’s Socialist President Nicolas Maduro says he hopes for improved relations with the United States under President-elect Donald Trump.
While on the campaign trail, Trump said in July the United States would "end up being Venezuela" if his rival Hillary Clinton were to win the White House.
Speaking on his weekly program In Contact With Maduro Sunday, the Venezuelan president said his country will have better relations with the U.S., despite last year calling the real estate mogul a "bandit and thief."
"I aspire, hope and will work so that hopefully during the next presidency of the United States, with Donald Trump, Venezuela-- our Bolivarian, independent, sovereign, peaceful, revolutionary Venezuela-- will have better relations of respect with the United States of America," said Maduro.
Since he came to power in 2013, succeeding Hugo Chavez, Maduro has used a confrontational rhetoric against the U.S. and President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, blaming them for being behind an "economic war" that has left the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) member in crisis with triple-digit inflation and major shortages, threatening Venezuela’s peace.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Maduro in Colombia in September about Venezuela's "economic and political challenges," urging him to work with the country's opposition.
The two countries have had tense relations since Chavez became president in 1999.
Mass street protests erupted after authorities last month blocked the opposition's bid to hold a referendum on removing Maduro from office.
Maduro said blocking the referendum was an independent decision by judicial and electoral authorities based on fraud allegations. He has distanced himself from the issue.
Maduro’s political opponents have accused him of staging a “coup d’etat” by stopping the effort to hold a vote to remove him.