VENEZUELAN president Hugo Chavez's condition remains "delicate" three weeks after his cancer surgery, the country's vice-president said.
With rumours that Mr Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Nicolas Maduro said he 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 last night by the Caracas-based television network, Telesur.
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.