Oil Report

Venezuela not ready to invite back U.S. ambassador

CARACAS, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Oil exporter Venezuela will not yet call back a U.S. ambassador expelled by leftist President Hugo Chavez last year despite hopes of warmer relations with the new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

A staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy, Chavez has got off to a rocky start with Obama, who called the Venezuelan leader an obstacle to progress. Chavez responded by saying Obama carried the same “stench” as his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Chavez has since softened his tone, saying he was filled with hope for Obama.

But Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday normal relations between Washington and one of its top oil suppliers would likely have to wait.

“Any step related to the U.S. government re-establishing its ambassador in Venezuela will probably have wait some time,” he told a news conference.

Long a thorn in the side of his main oil customer, Chavez in September expelled ambassador Patrick Duddy after accusing Washington of meddling in the affairs of Venezuelan ally Bolivia. The United States kicked out the Venezuelan ambassador soon after. (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, editing by Vicki Allen)