Chavez says he will meet with next US president
Andrew McLemore
Published: Saturday June 7, 2008

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President Hugo Chavez said Saturday he wants to work together with the next U.S. president and that Venezuela and the United States should cooperate to resolve problems including world hunger, energy shortages and climate change, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

But Chavez also warned that George W. Bush "will be much more dangerous during the last months that he has left" in the White House, and accused the outgoing U.S. president of attempting to orchestrate his assassination or spur a military rebellion in Venezuela.

"Whoever is the next president of the United States, I'd like start preparing the way to start working together," said Venezuela's socialist leader.

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has said repeatedly that he would meet with leaders of countries considered to be a threat to the United States, including Iran, Syria and Venezuela. In a July 23 Democratic debate, an excerpt of which is available below, Obama explained why he thinks it is important to meet with those leaders.

"The reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous," Senator Obama said.

This has drawn criticism from Republican opponent John McCain, who has said Obama's willingness to speak with the leaders of Iran and other US foes shows his "inexperience and reckless judgment", Talking Points Memo reported.

McCain's took issue mainly with the next US president meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran.

"An unconditional summit meeting with the next American president would confer both international legitimacy on the Iranian president and could strengthen him domestically when he is unpopular among the Iranian people," McCain said, according to remarks provided by his campaign. He added: "The next President ought to understand such basic realities of international relations."

Talking Points Memo also reported Obama's response to McCain's criticisms.

"Here's the truth: the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear weapons, and Iran doesn't have a single one. But when the world was on the brink of nuclear holocaust, Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and he got those missiles out of Cuba. Why shouldn't we have the same courage and the confidence to talk to our enemies? That's what strong countries do, that's what strong presidents do, that's what I'll do when I'm president of the United States of America."