According to Fox News, Chavez said: "I'd like to be your friend," while Obama reportedly expressed his thanks, though this couldn't immediately be confirmed.
Photos released by the Venezuelan government show Obama clasping Chavez's hand and smiling broadly.
A senior White House official said the encounter came before the summit's opening ceremonies during a meeting with the heads of state. Obama talked to many of the 25 or so leaders who were there at the time. At one point, he walked across the room and introduced himself to Chavez.
Chavez, the leftist leader, in the past has been vocal about his disapproval of United States, especially towards the former President George W. Bush, whom Chavez once called the 'devil'.