Chavez invites intellectual opponents to debate

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday he is willing to debate his prominent critics, including Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and other visiting Latin American intellectuals. Chavez invited the group to debate Saturday on live television at the presidential palace during his program "Hello President." "Seriously, gentlemen of the right: 'Hello President,' which happens to be commemorating its 10th anniversary, opens its doors to debate," Chavez said during the second day of a marathon four-day edition of his program. "Come. You'll be respected." Vargas Llosa and others including former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda and Mexican historian Enrique Krauze said they're willing to debate with Chavez. Vargas Llosa told reporters earlier Friday that he would only participate if he and others are allowed "to say what we think." "If the president wants dialogue, welcome," said the acclaimed writer, who was attending a pro-democracy forum organized by Cedice, a conservative Caracas-based think tank that is critical of Chavez's government.