Thu Aug 9, 2007 7:00PM EDT
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has named new ambassadors to Venezuela and Cuba as President Felipe Calderon seeks to mend fences with the two socialist countries after several years of diplomatic disputes.
The foreign ministry announced on Thursday it will send Mexico's current ambassador to Colombia, Jesus Chacon, to Caracas after a two-year break without a top envoy there.
Relations hit a low in 2005 when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called Mexico's then-President Vicente Fox a "lap dog" of the United States.
Calderon, a conservative who took office last December, has vowed to move Mexico nearer to Latin America while keeping close ties to key trade partner the United States.
His government asked Congress on Wednesday to send a new ambassador, Gabriel Jimenez, to Cuba to replace one named by Fox, who also fought with Havana over human rights.
Chavez, a vocal anti-U.S. foe, this week acknowledged Mexico's efforts at rapprochement.
"We have heard the messages from Mexico and we have no choice but to respond in the same way," Chavez said in Buenos Aires, naming his own ambassador to Mexico.
Calderon narrowly won Mexico's presidential election last year and had to fight off claims of vote fraud by his leftist opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Chavez, the most visible face of Latin America's resurgent leftist politics, initially refused to recognize Calderon's victory.