Downplaying President Obama's interactions with the controversial South American leader, a senior administration official acknowledged Obama again interacted with Chavez before leaving this morning's meeting with South American leaders.
"I think as the president left he said goodbye and individually to pretty much everyone in the room and I think they had a little interaction then," a senior administration official told reporters in Trinidad and Tobago.
The White House said that Chavez made brief remarks (by Chavez's standards) in the closed-door meeting, in which he was critical of past U.S. policies, but expressed hope that his country's chilly relationship with the U.S. would thaw during the Obama administration.
The senior administration official also addressed the highly-publicized exchanges between Obama and Chavez this weekend.
"It's a way for Chavez to get press questions and his picture taken again," the official said. "This is the nature of the person and anybody who's been at international conferences with Chavez knows that if there's a camera around, he's going to find a way to get in it."