CARACAS, Venezuela - Hugo Chavez has called President Bush a devil, a donkey and a drunkard. But on Wednesday the Venezuelan leader said his comments were "nothing personal."
Chavez, who had stepped up his verbal assault during Bush's Latin American tour this week, suggested that the two adversaries might eventually overcome their differences and even play a game of dominos or baseball together.
"One day, if maybe George Bush and I survive all of this, we will reach old age, and it would be good to play a game of dominos, street baseball," Chavez said on his weekday radio program.
But he said his comments about the American leader were "nothing personal" and that his opposition to Bush was due to "deep ethical, political, historic and geopolitical" reasons.
Chavez has fiercely opposed U.S.-backed free trade policies and criticized the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and other foreign policy decisions.
Chavez said Bush was part of a long line of elitist U.S. administrations that have become accustomed to abusing the rest of the world, acting unilaterally and violating human rights.
He also taunted the U.S. leader for skirting questions about Chavez during his Latin American tour in the past week, comparing him to a matador avoiding the bull with his cape.
"The president of the United States takes out his cape as always, Ole!, because he doesn't want to respond" to pointed issues raised by the Venezuelan leader, Chavez said.
Bush on Wednesday completed a tour of Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Guatemala.
Chavez went on something of a shadow tour of Bush's trip over the same period, visiting several regional nations including Argentina, where he led thousands in an anti-bush rally.