The vice presidential running mate of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Rafael Correa says Correa regards Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez as a friend.

Lenin Moreno told the Voice of America's Spanish Service Wednesday that "Colonel Chavez is a friend of economist Correa."

He denied, however, that the American-trained economist would follow Venezuela's lead in forming policies if elected. Mr. Moreno says Ecuador will find its own way toward the future.

Candidate Correa's support has surged in recent polls. His calls to renogotiate Ecuador's foreign debt has made foreign investors nervous.

Correa is running in a field of 13 candidates and it is likely that the October 15 vote will not result in a winner with an outright majority.

If necessary, a run-off vote will be held next month.

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