During a diplomatic tour aimed at creating a “pluri-polar world,” Venezuelan President Hugo ChÃ¡vez pledged his support for United States President Barack Obama’s call for nuclear disarmament, and said he hopes the upcoming Summit of the Americas will provide an opportunity to “reset” diplomatic relations between the US and Venezuela.
“It is very encouraging that [Obama] is going to propose an end to, or promote the dismantling of nuclear weapons in the world,” said ChÃ¡vez on Tuesday morning in Tokyo, where Venezuelan and Japanese officials had spent two days developing an energy alliance and other economic accords worth $33.5 billion.
“Hopefully Obama will be able to implement his new policy. In this, we will support him with everything,” said ChÃ¡vez. He added that the US should ask for Japan’s forgiveness for having dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
The leader of Venezuela’s drive toward “21st Century Socialism” also said he is willing “to shake Obama’s hand and tell him to come over to this side, with those of us who truly want a world of peace, who truly love humanity.”
“Let’s make an alliance to fight against hunger, misery, war, violence, racism, drug trafficking, and terrorism,” said ChÃ¡vez.
ChÃ¡vez’s comments were a response to Obama’s declarations last Sunday following North Korea’s apparent test-firing of a long-range rocket. Obama said, “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it.”
Also on Tuesday, ChÃ¡vez reiterated his desire to renew US-Venezuelan diplomatic relations, which froze last September after both Venezuela and its ally Bolivia expelled their respective US ambassadors on suspicion that the ambassadors were conspiring with separatist movements to destabilize the Bolivian and Venezuelan governments.
“On the basis of respect, everything is possible: Rapprochement, even a possible dialogue,” said ChÃ¡vez. “The day will arrive when we are friends with the United States.”
At the beginning of his diplomatic tour last week, ChÃ¡vez proposed a new international currency backed by oil reserves during the II Summit of Arab and South American Countries in Qatar, then he inaugurated a bi-national bank with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.
In Iran on Saturday, ChÃ¡vez said he hopes to “reset” US-Venezuelan relations face-to-face with Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago next weekend.
“We do not want to impose anything on the US, and neither should the US come to impose something on a sovereign government,” said ChÃ¡vez. “They should hear our criticisms, and we should hear theirs… but they should not think they are the saviors of the world, because until now they have been the destroyers of the world.”
Since ChÃ¡vez was elected to his first presidential term ten years ago, his administration has promoted new regional trade mechanisms to end the hegemony of US-dominated financial institutions. His administration has also strongly denounced the US’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the US’s support for a two-day military coup led by elite business owners against ChÃ¡vez in 2002.
The Obama administration has echoed the rhetoric of former US President George W. Bush by accusing ChÃ¡vez of “impeding progress in the region,” but took a softer line by withholding judgment when Venezuelans approved a constitutional amendment to abolish term limits on elected offices in a national referendum in February.
Despite ongoing tensions between the two countries, the US continues to import a third of Venezuela’s oil, and ChÃ¡vez acknowledged on Tuesday that the US remains a principal investor in Venezuela.
President ChÃ¡vez arrived in China on Tuesday afternoon to finish his tour. He plans to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao to review the nearly 70 existing accords between the two nations, which include joint oil projects in the Orinoco Oil Belt, infrastructure, agriculture, medical technology, education, and increased Venezuelan oil exports to China.
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This post was written by James Suggett