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The Journal Gazette

  • Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro, left, and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello greet the media as they arrive to the Supreme Court for a special session marking the start of the judicial year in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Maduro said Sunday he's optimistic that President Hugo Chavez will soon return to Venezuela following cancer-related surgery in Cuba. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Monday, January 21, 2013 9:17 pm

Venezuela FM: I 'joked and laughed" with Chavez

The Associated Press

Venezuela's top diplomat said he joked and laughed with President Hugo Chavez after meeting him on Monday in Cuba, where the ailing leader is recovering from a fourth cancer surgery.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua wrote on his official Twitter account that Chavez made decisions about Venezuela's participation in this weekend's Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit in Chile and was "very happy because the Bolivarian dream continues advancing."

"I transmit all his blessings and love for you, his beloved Venezuelan people," Jaua wrote. "Viva Chavez!"

Jaua, however, did not provide any specific details on Chavez's illness or say how long their meeting lasted.

Venezuela's socialist president has not been seen or heard from in public since his operation in Cuba on Dec. 11, and was unable to make his scheduled inauguration for a new term earlier this month.

On Sunday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised interview that Chavez is finishing with a "post-operative" phase of his treatment and next is to enter a "new phase of treatment," which he said would be announced.

"He's climbing the hill. He is becoming stabilized in all his values," Maduro said, without giving details.

Officials have not given specific details about the nature of his cancer.

The opposition has demanded more information about Chavez's condition.