Colombia says Chavez will head home early next week

By @ibtimes on

- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday Venezuela's Hugo Chavez will return home next week from Cuba where he is recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.

The two presidents were meeting in Havana to discuss a regional summit and bilateral trade.

We found him in good health, happy, in high spirits. He told me his recovery is going well, Santos told reporters as he left the island. He said we would stay a few more days and he thinks he will return to Venezuela at the beginning of next week.

Colombia's conservative government has clashed with Chavez in the past, but since Santos' election the two Andean nations have increased cooperation on security issues and strengthened economic ties.

Chavez declared himself cured of cancer last year after surgery to remove a tumour from his pelvis and a round of chemotherapy but surprised the nation last month when he said he would be returning to Cuba to remove a lesion in the same area.

The gregarious president said in a televised appearance on Sunday he would need radiotherapy treatment, throwing a wild card into a contentious election year where Chavez is facing a tough battle against the opposition trying to end his 13-year rule.

Voters will decide in October whether Chavez should serve for another six-year term and are closely watching news about his health from afar.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Diego Ore; Editing by Eric Beech)

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