Chavez 'delicate' after surgery
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's condition remains "delicate" three weeks after his cancer surgery, the country's vice-president said.
With rumours swirling that Mr Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Nicolas Maduro said he had met with the president twice in Cuba, where he is being treated, and had spoken with him.
"He's totally conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state and he expressly asked us... to keep the nation informed always, always with the truth, as hard as it may be in certain circumstances," Mr Maduro said.
He was speaking in a pre-recorded interview in the Cuban capital Havana, which was broadcast on Tuesday night by the Caracas-based television network Telesur.
Both supporters and opponents of Mr Chavez have been on edge in the past week amid shifting signals from the government about the president's health.
Mr Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the December 11 operation, and officials have reported a series of ups and downs in his recovery. On Sunday, they announced that he faced new complications from a respiratory infection.
Mr Maduro did not provide any new details about the latest complications during the interview. But he joined other Chavez allies in urging Venezuelans to ignore gossip, saying rumours were being spread due to "the hatred of the enemies of Venezuela".
He did not refer to any rumours in particular, though one of them circulating online described Mr Chavez as being in a coma.
Mr Maduro said the president faces "a complex and delicate situation". But he added that when he spoke with the president and looked at his face, he seemed to have "the same strength as always".
"All the time we've been hoping for his positive evolution. Sometimes he has had light improvements, sometimes stationary situations," he said.