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U.S., Venezuela Discuss Anti-Drug Efforts

The U.S. ambassador to Venezuela said Wednesday that American and Venezuelan officials are working out details of joint counter-drug efforts, following President Hugo Chavez's (search) offer this week to renew cooperation.

"We are talking about how we can continue cooperating on the issue of illegal drugs," U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield (search) told reporters in comments broadcast on the Venezuelan TV channel Globovision.

"We are in dialogue on some specific points," Brownfield said. "Eventually we are going to arrive at a point at which it can be said these are the points we can resolve at a working level, a technical level."

In early August, Chavez accused the U.S. of using its drug agents for espionage, and said Venezuela was suspending cooperation with the U.S. agency. The U.S. government denied the charge.

But after meeting the Rev. Jesse Jackson (search) on Monday, Chavez took a different tone, saying his government is "always willing to continue working together" with the U.S. government provided that anti-drug work "cannot be a mask to carry out spying."

Relations have been tense between Washington and Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro (search) who has emerged as a prominent critic of President Bush's government.

But both sides have said they hope for better relations. Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, remains a major supplier of fuel to the United States.

This week, Chavez's government has offered fuel and a team of relief workers to the United States following Hurricane Katrina (search), as well as a $1 million relief donation from its U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum Corp.