Get me Clinton, says Chávez after veto

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The Independent US

President Hugo Chávez has sought to end a diplomatic stand-off with the US by suggesting Bill Clinton, the actor Sean Penn or the film director Oliver Stone as America's envoy to Caracas.

Washington withdrew the visa of Venezuela's ambassador last week after Mr Chávez rejected Barack Obama's nominated ambassador, Larry Palmer. Mr Palmer had previously criticised Venezuela's government, saying morale in its military was low and there were clear ties between members of the Chávez administration and leftist rebels in neighbouring Colombia.

But in a televised speech on Tuesday, Mr Chávez said he had come up with a solution. "I hope they name Oliver Stone. I'll suggest a candidate... Sean Penn or [linguist and philosopher Noam] Chomsky. We have a lot of friends there. Bill Clinton!"

Stone visited Caracas in May for the local premiere of his documentary South Of The Border, which profiles Latin America's leftist leaders. He said he admired Mr Chávez and his record since coming to power in 1999.

Penn, who has been involved in aid efforts following Haiti's earthquake, won best actor Oscars for his roles in Mystic River and Milk.

Despite the diplomatic spat, few analysts expect either Venezuela or the US to risk jeopardising the trade ties, principally oil, seen as crucial to both countries' economies.