VP says he spoke with Chavez, who is up, walking

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro says he has spoken by phone with President Hugo Chavez and that the leader is up and walking following cancer surgery in Cuba.

Maduro told state television that he spoke with Chavez for about 20 minutes on Monday night. He said the president was walking and doing some exercises. He added that Chavez was in a good mood and had given him guidance on budgetary matters for 2013.

It was the first time a top Venezuelan government official had confirmed speaking personally with Chavez since the Dec. 11 surgery.

Venezuelan officials have given little specific information on Chavez's condition or his long-term prognosis.

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In this picture released by the Cuban newspaper Juventud Revelde, Bolivia's President Evo Morales, center, is welcomed by Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, and Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at the Jose Marti international airport in Havana, Cuba, early Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. Evo Morales is in Cuba to visit Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who is recovering from a surgery, his fourth operation related to his pelvic cancer since June 2011. (AP Photo/Juventud Revelde, Estudios Revolucion)