Venezuela's new foreign minister is in Cuba to consult with his country's ailing president, Hugo Chavez, on Caracas' international stance.

Elias Jaua, who stepped down as Venezuelan vice president last year to make an ultimately unsuccessful run for a state governorship, arrived here Monday on an unannounced visit that began with a meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The main focus of his discussions with Chavez will be preparations for the Jan. 26-27 gathering in Chile of leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean Community and the European Union, Jaua told his Cuban counterpart.

Jaua is to accompany Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro to the Santiago summit.

Chavez, a 58-year-old leftist who won another six-year term in the Oct. 7 election, continues to recover in Cuba from his fourth cancer surgery since he was first diagnosed with the illness in June 2011.

Since Chavez took office in 1999, Venezuela has become Cuba's No. 1 trading partner and most important political ally.

The president is emerging from the post-operative phase following his Dec. 11 operation in Havana, Maduro said Sunday, adding that Chavez is fully alert and concentrating on his recovery.

Jaua is the latest Venezuelan senior official to visit Chavez in Havana during his protracted recovery. Maduro has made the trip several times, as have Attorney General Cilia Flores and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.

Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that Chavez could delay his swearing-in, set for Jan. 10, without creating a constitutional vacuum, and that Maduro could remain in charge during the president's absence. EFE