Ken admires Hugo's extraordinary courage
We know Ken Livingstone is keen on the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but does he have to express it like this?
'I have long had the greatest admiration for the extraordinary courage and tenacity with which you have acted to improve the lives of the people of Venezuela and resolutely resisted external pressures to alter the just and progressive course of your government.'
That is an extract from a letter the London Mayor sent in January this year to Hugo Chavez. This was obtained by the BBC using freedom of information. The Mayor's Office supplied us with the Spanish version and an English translation.
And the letter continues in the same tone. Livingstone told Chavez how 'In London ... we have been deeply moved by your country's initiative, in partnership with Cuba, to provide free eye care to many' and 'your courage and tenacity have won many admirers in our city.'
Sadly for the Mayor, however, it is possible that his great admiration for President Chavez may not be completely reciprocated. Last month Chavez suddenly cancelled Livingstone's planned visit to Venezuela at short notice, leaving the Mayor having to cope with much embarrassing bad publicity.