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Originally published Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:19 PM

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Chavez ally travels to Cuba to see ailing leader

The president of Venezuela's National Assembly traveled to Cuba on Thursday to visit President Hugo Chavez, who is recovering on the island more than seven weeks after undergoing cancer surgery.

The Associated Press

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CARACAS, Venezuela —

The president of Venezuela's National Assembly traveled to Cuba on Thursday to visit President Hugo Chavez, who is recovering on the island more than seven weeks after undergoing cancer surgery.

The trip by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello was announced on television by Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

"He should be landing in Havana already, taking a message of ours, taking a group of subjects to keep consulting (with Chavez) on various issues relating to the country's political, social development," Maduro said. He said that among those matters was the development of a coalition of pro-Chavez parties.

Chavez hasn't appeared or spoken publicly since before his Dec. 11 operation for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer.

The government provided its latest update on Chavez's health on Saturday, saying he had overcome a severe respiratory infection and was beginning additional medical treatment.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said when he gave that update that it remained unclear how soon Chavez could return home from Cuba. He said Chavez had started "systemic medical treatment for the fundamental illness."

Medical experts say that could refer to a new round of chemotherapy or other drug treatments, depending on the type of cancer Chavez has.

The Venezuelan leader has undergone repeated surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment since June 2011.

The 58-year-old president won re-election in October, and lawmakers indefinitely put off his Jan. 10 inauguration in a decision that was condemned by opponents but upheld by the Supreme Court.

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