June 29, 2011 / 6:59 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-Venezuela summit off due to Chavez health - sources

* Meeting planned to coincide with independence party

* Blow to Chavez, who had been looking forward to summit (Adds details)

CARACAS, June 29 (Reuters) - Venezuela has called off a regional summit planned for July 5-6 due to President Hugo Chavez’s longer-than-expected recovery from surgery in Cuba, two diplomatic sources in Latin America said on Wednesday.

After surgery earlier this month, Chavez had hoped to be home for the event scheduled to start on Margarita island on the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s independence from Spain. [ID:nN1E75S07R]

Various Latin American heads of state had confirmed attendance at the first meeting of a new group called the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC in its Spanish acronym.

“Venezuela cancelled the summit,” a Brazilian diplomatic source told Reuters. Another source in Caracas echoed that.

The cancellation of the meeting is a blow for Chavez, who likes to grandstand at summits and was planning a big national party, with heads of state in tow, for the independence celebration. (Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Caracas and Jeferson Ribeiro in Brasilia; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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