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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Chavez urges unity
president
Crowds greeted the president's return to power
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has repeated his call for national unity after he was temporarily removed from power by the military last week.

Mr Chavez announced talks with state governors and local mayors, including those from the opposition, on the way forward.

He said the country needed a period of calm and reflection to end the political turmoil which has left at least 40 dead.

Soldiers on Miraflores Palace, Caracas
Soldiers loyal to Chavez had occupied the roof of the presidential palace
Mr Chavez was sworn back in as president on Sunday, two days after being forced from power by the military - following months of opposition demonstrations which culminated in a national strike.

The planned meeting of mayors, union leaders and businessmen will name a reconciliation committee to give voice to opposition concerns.

But correspondents say that while his conciliatory tone will be welcomed, the opposition will be watching for specific action over their demands for radical political change.

US anger

Sources close to the Venezuelan military say Mr Chavez's return to power was made dependent on him taking a more conciliatory line.

The United States has withheld support for Mr Chavez, saying his return to power did not amount to a full restoration of Venezuelan democracy.

The Bush administration was clearly pleased when the military forced Mr Chavez out of office and the interim government decided to suspend oil exports.

But Mr Chavez has upset the Bush administration by saying on Monday that Venezuela - the world's fourth largest oil producer - would continue supplying oil to Cuba.

Oil prices soared on Monday mainly because of the crisis in Venezuela.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Americas
Washington's Chavez dilemma
15 Apr 02 | Business
Oil prices rise on Chavez return
14 Apr 02 | Media reports
Chavez calls for national unity
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