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Chavez Back in Venezuela after Cancer Surgery in Cuba

President Hugo Chavez returned home to Venezuela looking haggard but expressing optimism he will survive after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba.

Chavez said he has been praying and is confident he will triumph in his re-election bid this year. He smiled and waved as he stepped off the plane Friday night, but his expression turned sober as he referred to his unfinished struggle with cancer.

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Lesion Removed from Venezuela's Chavez in Surgery

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in good condition Tuesday after surgeons in Cuba "totally extracted" a lesion from the same pelvic area where they cut out a cancerous tumor last year, Vice President Elias Jaua said.

"The diagnosed pelvic lesion was totally extracted," said Jaua, adding that that "surrounding tissue" was also removed and that there were "no complications" with nearby organs.

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Venezuela Confirms Sending Oil to Syria

Venezuela's oil minister confirmed that it sent two shipments of diesel to Syria last year and said it would send further supplies "when required" despite Western-led sanctions.

The United States and the European Union have tightened sanctions in an effort to isolate Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime over its deadly months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

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Venezuela's Chavez Travels to Cuba for New Surgery

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flew to Havana Friday for treatment of what he says is likely a malignant lesion in the same part of his body where Cuban doctors removed a cancerous tumor in 2011.

The 57 year-old Chavez, who is seeking re-election in October, vowed to defeat "this new difficulty" just ahead of boarding his flight to Havana, state media reported.

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Chavez Calls Opposition Candidate a 'Low-Life Pig'

President Hugo Chavez has referred to the opposition candidate for Venezuela's highest office as a "low-life... pig" in a sharp attack at the start of this year's election season.

"My mission... (will be) to take off the mask, you low-life, because no matter how much you disguise it, low-life, you have a pig's tail, a pig's ears, and you snort like a pig," Chavez said Thursday in a speech broadcast on state radio and television, referring to opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

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Ahmadinejad Launches Tour of U.S. Foes in Latin America

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing new sanctions over his nation's suspect nuclear program, arrived in Venezuela on Sunday to start a five-day tour aimed at shoring up ties in Latin America.

The Iranian leader, who is traveling with several of his top ministers, was welcomed with military honors at the international airport in Caracas, according to images broadcast on state television network VTV.

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U.S. Orders Expulsion of Venezuelan Consul

The United States has ordered the expulsion of Venezuela's consul general in Miami amid reports linking the diplomat to an alleged Iranian plot to target sensitive U.S. facilities with cyber attacks, the U.S. State Department said Sunday.

The U.S. action comes as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to kick off a Latin American tour in Caracas later Sunday.

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Ahmadinejad Heads to Latin America to Seek Support

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left on Sunday for a five-day Latin American tour that will let him tout some of Iran's few friendships while tensions grow over the country's threats to block oil shipments in retaliation for tighter U.S. sanctions.

His government finds itself largely isolated in the standoff over its nuclear program, and the new sanctions targeting Iran's Central Bank and oil industry have triggered an abrupt drop in the nation's currency.

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U.S. Urges Latin America Not to Deepen Ties with Iran

The United States on Friday urged Latin American countries not to deepen ties with Iran as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to visit Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador.

"As the regime feels increasing pressure, it is desperate for friends and flailing around in interesting places to find new friends," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said when asked about Ahmadinejad's trip.

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U.S. Officials: Iran Trying to Enhance Latin American Activities with Hizbullah Support

Iran has dramatically expanded its diplomatic missions throughout Latin America and dispatched members of its elite Quds Force to serve in its embassies “to carry out covert activities” with the assistance of Hizbullah, U.S. officials have said.

The Washington Post quoted former U.S. intelligence officials as saying that “the presence of Quds Force officers and other military personnel in diplomatic missions enhances Iran’s ability to carry out covert activities, sometimes in conjunction with members of the Iran-backed Hizbullah militant group that operates extensive networks in Latin America and maintains ties with drug cartels.”

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