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Thursday, June 10, 1999 Published at 01:04 GMT 02:04 UK

World: Americas

Chavez "pitches" for Venezuela in US

The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, on his first official visit to the United States, has been reassuring American business leaders about his plans for the economy .

Mr Chavez told hundreds of bankers and business leaders in New York that he welcomed foreign investment in Venezuela's large oil industry, and pledged to continue with the privatisation of state-owned companies. He also said the government was looking into issuing bonds as part of measures to reduce Venezuelan debt. On Thursday, Mr Chavez is due to meet senior representatives of banking and investment companies before travelling to Texas for talks with oil executives. On the sidelines of his visit, President Chavez, a lifelong baseball fan, fulfilled a childhood dream, when he threw the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays at the Shea stadium in New York.

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