American filmmaker Oliver Stone praised President Hugo Chavez on Friday as the Venezuelan leader launched a mission to airlift three hostages held by leftist rebels out of Colombia's jungles.
Stone, who stood near Chavez as two Russian-made helicopters took off from an airfield in western Venezuela, said he was working on a film and hoped to accompany the humanitarian operation into Colombia.
"I'm doing a documentary about Latin America and also about North America. You have to wait around to see it," Stone told reporters. He said he planned to take part in the mission, calling it a "beautiful, great process."
"I'm hoping it works. I'm all for this," Stone said. "I've never been in such a thing. I'm very proud to be a part of this."
The Oscar-winning director, who made a 2003 documentary about Cuban President Fidel Castro as well as the movie "Platoon," called Chavez a "great man" and said "I'm a fan."
Urging Stone to speak with reporters, Chavez told him in accented English: "The girls want to see you!" He joked that Stone was U.S. President George W. Bush's "envoy."
"There are some good Americans. That's why I'm here, to remind you," Stone said.
Chavez revealed that Stone was in Venezuela on Thursday, saying they had met for two hours and noting the director is a Vietnam veteran who now questions the reasons for that war.
He said he didn't know whether Stone's documentary will be about the Colombian hostages, including three _ two women and a boy _ who may soon be freed after being held for years by leftist guerrillas.
"He's going around doing research. He says he wants to know and learn deeply the history of these nations," Chavez said. "He's an anti-imperialist, Oliver Stone. He's a good man."