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Peruvian president-elect Humala meets ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) ' Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala met with the ailing Hugo Chavez on Friday amid reports that the Venezuelan leader was expected to go to Brazil soon for treatment of his cancer.
Chavez greeted his Peruvian counterpart on the steps of the presidential palace, where Humala wished the Venezuelan the best in "this personal battle you are leading."
Chavez congratulated Humala on his election victory last month and told him, "It's the same future that calls us."
Humala's visit came as reports said Chavez would be continuing treatment in Brazil. A doctor at the Sirio-Libanes hospital in Sao Paulo told The Associated Press that Chavez was expected to undergo cancer treatment there. Chavez "should be arriving soon," said the source, who agreed to discuss the sensitive information only if granted anonymity.
The hospital is known as one of the best in Latin America for treating cancer and is where both Presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay have received cancer care.
Rousseff has offered Chavez treatment in Brazil, but neither the Brazilian nor the Venezuelan governments confirmed that the Venezuelan leader was set to go to Brazil.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba on June 20 to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. He said Wednesday that he expects to eventually undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment but has not said how soon that could begin.
During remarks on television Friday morning, Chavez did not address the possibility of traveling to Brazil for treatment.
Dr. Jose Humberto Simoes Correia, president of the Brazilian Society of Oncological Surgery, described Sirio-Libanes as "Brazil's and perhaps South America's best private hospital."
"It has an excellent cancer treatment center organized by two oncologists from New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the world's best," he said. He added that the hospital has the region's best equipment for radiation treatment.
Humala had delayed his visit to Caracas after his June 5 electoral victory due to Chavez's health. The Peruvian president-elect has recently made a series of visits to South American capitals and to Washington.
Humala, who like Chavez is a populist leftist and a former military officer, had allied himself with the Venezuelan during his failed 2006 run for Peru's presidency. In this year's campaign, he portrayed himself as more of a center-left moderate, closer to former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Humala takes office July 28.
The two men greeted each other warmly at the presidential palace and put their hands over their hearts while a military band played.
"We have celebrated your victory with joy," said Chavez, who called Humala a brother.
Humala agreed with Chavez that they shared the "same future."
"You still have to fulfill a mission with your people," Humala told Chavez before they walked into the palace together.
Associated Press writer Ian James reported this story in Caracas and Stan Lehman reported in Sao Paulo. AP writer Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas contributed to this report.