Venezuela says Iranian leader's visit postponed

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2011 10:43 PM
Venezuela says Iranian leader's visit postponed

A visit to Venezuela by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been canceled and will be rescheduled, the South American country's foreign minister said Friday.

The Iranian leader had been scheduled to arrive in Venezuela on Saturday.

"Both governments have decided to postpone the date of President Ahmadinejad's visit for another opportunity," Maduro said at a televised meeting with Iranian officials in Caracas.

"We're going to be waiting for the fulfillment of the schedule of President Hugo Chavez's full recuperation," Maduro said.

Chavez, who has been undergoing cancer treatment, had just returned to Venezuela from Cuba a day earlier after a fourth round of chemotherapy.

Maduro did not elaborate on what prompted the decision to put off the visit. He said he expected Ahmadinejad to come to Venezuela "in the coming weeks, perhaps in the coming months."

Chavez has a close relationship with Ahmadinejad, and the two have regularly teamed up to criticize the U.S. government and defend Iran's nuclear energy program. Chavez last visited Tehran in October, and the Iranian leader has also visited Caracas.

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Maduro made the announcement at a meeting with Iranian officials where they signed accords for joint projects in housing, agriculture and other areas. The Iranians said a prayer for Chavez's health during the meeting.

Chavez said Thursday after his return home that he had completed chemotherapy and expressed optimism the treatment was successful.

Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June to remove a tumor from the pelvic region. He has said that tests have shown no signs of any reappearance of malignant cells.