2008-07-21 23:58:50 GMT 2008-07-22 07:58:50 (Beijing Time) China Daily
CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has given a twist to his diplomatic spat with Spanish King Juan Carlos, saying he would like to give the latter a hug but not shut up.
The president was referring to the furore the king created by shouting "Why don't you shut up?" at him when he tried to interrupt a speech by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the Ibero-American summit in Chile last November.
Ties have improved since then and the Spanish government said last week that Chavez will meet the king on a visit to Spain next week.
"I'd like to give the king a hug, but you know, Juan Carlos, that I am not going to shut up," a smiling Chavez said on his weekly television show on Sunday before setting off for Russia for the first leg of his tour.
"We will keep talking for ourselves, for a just and equal world," Chavez said.
The king's November outburst made headlines across the world, spawning songs, jokes and even a ringtone for mobile phones.
Chavez threatened to review diplomatic and business ties with Venezuela's former colonial power, a major investor in the region.
Despite ongoing tensions over Europe's immigration policies, tempers have now calmed and Chavez referred to the king as an "old friend," during a meeting with the Spanish prime minister at a summit in Peru in May.
Chavez, making his first visit to Spain since the spat, will meet the king on Friday on the island of Mallorca after which he will travel to Madrid to meet Zapatero.