Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will embark on his second state visit to Gulf OPEC producers in February, visiting Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jose Vincente Rangel on January 30th.
Chavez, a former paratrooper, will visit Saudi Arabia from February 16th-21st and spend one day in Qatar before returning to South America.
His visit follows an invitation from Saudi King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud “to analyze policy in the Persian Gulf, international policy and relations within OPEC.”
Chavez had visited the two countries in August 2000 during a 10-nation OPEC tour to promote the cartel’s second-ever heads of state summit held in Caracas on September 27th-29th.
The leftist president had raised Washington’s hackles by traveling to Iraq without U.N. permission on August 10th. Chavez was the first democratically elected head of state to visit Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Although Chavez did not violate U.N. sanctions because he was driven into Iraq over the Iranian border, the visit was seen as a slap in the face to the U.S. The Venezuelan president also visited Libyan leader Muammar Qaddhafi during his OPEC tour.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )