Both men hugged, beamed, held hands and showered each other with praise.

As he often does, the theatrical and provocative Chavez stuck his finger right into the global political sore spot, joking that a bomb was ready under a grassy knoll in front of his Miraflores palace steps.

“That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out,” he said, the two men laughing together.

“The imperialist spokesmen say … Ahmadinejad and I are going into the Miraflores basement now to set our sights on Washington and launch cannons and missiles. … It’s laughable.”