CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's foreign minister, Elias Jaua, said Sunday that President Hugo Chavez has asked his diplomats to seek improved relations with the United States.
Chavez has had a rocky relationship with Washington for years, though the United States remains the top buyer of oil from Venezuela.
"We want to have a good relationship with the United States, but we are not desperate," said Jaua, speaking in an interview broadcast on the local Televen TV channel
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010 when Chavez rejected the U.S. nominee for ambassador, accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about Venezuela's government. That led Washington to revoke the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador.
Jaua said Chavez wants Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States, Roy Chaderton, to talk with officials in Washington about the possibility of restoring ambassadors to embassies in both countries.
"It's an effort that President Chavez has asked us to continue making," Jaua said.
But Jaua noted that Venezuela is not in a hurry to have an American envoy in Caracas, saying: "We have learned to live without a U.S. ambassador."
Since taking office in 1999, Chavez has regularly accused U.S. officials of conspiring against his government and criticized Washington's foreign policy.
Chavez, a self-proclaimed revolutionary, has also forged strong ties with U.S. adversaries including Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
U.S. officials have for years questioned Chavez's democratic ideals and criticized Venezuela's efforts against drug trafficking as inadequate.
Chavez counters that democratic freedoms have increased under his 13-year rule and has accused U.S. officials of manipulating the drug issue for political purposes to discredit his government.