November 3, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, said he is willing to work together with Barack Obama to repair diplomatic relations with the United States if Obama becomes the next president.
"I am willing to sit down and converse on equal footing and with respect," said Chávez during the inauguration of the construction of a new international airport in the state of Barinas.
Venezuela-U.S. relations have been tense for most of Chávez's ten years as president, but they fell apart last September when Venezuela expelled U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy on suspicion that the Bush administration was helping destabilize and overthrow the governments of Venezuela and Bolivia.
"We do not ask [Obama] to be revolutionary or socialist, no… we hope he will rise to the occasion of what is occurring in the world, and to the hope that the majority of the world has for a world of peace," said Chávez.
"For a black man to become president of the United States is not a small thing," Chávez added. "The entire world is watching."
Chávez said if Obama becomes president, he should eliminate the U.S.-imposed embargo on Cuba, which 185 countries in the United Nations General Assembly rejected last month. Chávez also urged Obama to take U.S. troops out of Iraq, and to stop threatening Iran, Venezuela, and "the world."
Chávez has expressed his willingness on several occasions to have a dialogue with the next president of the U.S., whomever that may be.
Democratic Senator Barack Obama has referred to Chávez as a "demagogue" who leads an "authoritarian government," while Republican Senator John McCain called Chávez a "dictator."
Even so, Obama has not retracted his offer to converse with Chávez without preconditions, despite being heavily criticized by the McCain campaign for his willingness to do so.
"God-willing, we will enter into another era with our differences," Chávez concluded Saturday. He asserted that Venezuela is set on its "revolutionary" and "socialist" path, and that "the United States should be a world power, but not an empire."