Chavez says he hopes for better relations with US

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday before meeting with Iranian president Mahmous Ahmadinejad, that he had personally told a US official he hoped relations would improve with Washington. Chavez said he ran into Thomas Shannon, head of the US State Department's Western Hemisphere affairs bureau, at the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega this week. "Mr. Shannon approached and I greeted him," Chavez said in a speech to government officials and legislators. "We shook hands and I told him, 'I hope that everything improves."' "I'm not anyone's enemy," he added. US officials have accused Chavez of authoritarian tendencies, while US National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said during an annual review of global threats this week that Venezuela's democracy was at risk under Chavez.