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Penn to meet Venezuelan President

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has arranged to meet Sean Penn, after praising the actor for his anti-Iraq war stance.

The pair reportedly spoke on the phone earlier this week and have planned to meet up at a later date.

Celebrating the I am Sam star's visit to his country, the President said in a speech: "Welcome to Venezuela, Mr Penn... What drives him is consciousness, the search for new paths," before adding: "He's one of the greatest opponents of the Iraq invasion."

After reading aloud an open letter Penn had sent George Bush, criticising his foreign policy, Chavez said Penn "is well informed about what goes on in the United States and in the world, despite being from Hollywood".

Chavez admitted that Penn made "great films", claiming he had recently watched the Hollywood actor's Oscar-winning performance in Mystic River.

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