The new U.S. ambassador to Venezuela has met with President Hugo Chavez in Caracas to discuss ways of improving relations between the two countries.

Patrick Duddy presented his credentials to Mr. Chavez Monday, two months after arriving in the Venezuelan capital. Photographs showed both men smiling as they chatted.

A Venezuelan television network, Globovision, quotes Duddy as saying he and Mr. Chavez discussed a wide range of issues, including their determination to cooperate in fighting drug trafficking.

Earlier this month, senior U.S. diplomat Thomas Shannon met Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in New York for talks Venezuela described as "very cordial". Shannon said he expressed an interest in visiting Caracas.

Diplomatic contacts between the U.S. and Venezuela are infrequent. Washington accuses Mr. Chavez of being a destabilizing force in Latin America, while the Venezuelan leader is a fierce critic of the Bush administration.

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