Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): President Barack Obama has said that it was a nice gesture on the part of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to gift him a book during the weekend Summit of the Americas.
Obama, however, said nothing about the theme of the book, "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," by Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano, which blames foreign interests like the United States for exploiting Latin America for centuries."It was a nice gesture to give me a book. I am a reader," Obama said during a solo press conference at the end of the summit held in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
President Obama said on Sunday that he is not concerned with the politics of shaking hands with Chavez, but is more interested in expanding a policy he described during his presidential campaign of extending an open hand to nations hostile to the US.
Chavez told the Obama Administration that he would like to send an ambassador to the US in exchange for an ambassador in Venezuela. The US suspended diplomatic ties last September, FOX News reported.
US officials responded that they need to see more from Chavez before moving forward but were pleased by the sentiment.
Obama credited Chavez, who has been slowly instituting constitutional changes that will allow him to become president for life in his country, with successfully stealing the limelight during the weekend summit.
But he said that the "inflammatory" anti-American comments made by Chavez don't pose any danger to the United States.
"There have been instances where we've seen Venezuela interfere with some of the countries that surround Venezuela in ways that cause concern. On the other hand, Venezuela is a country whose defence budget is one-six hundredth of the United States.
"They own Citgo, the oil company. It's unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or that having a polite conversation with Chavez that we endanger the strategic interests of the United States," Obama said. (ANI)