By Fabian Cambero and Brian Ellsworth
SANTIAGO/CARACAS | Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:02pm EST
(Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has overcome a respiratory infection, but is still being treated for breathing problems after cancer surgery in Cuba last month, a government minister said on Saturday.
Official statements have sounded upbeat about the socialist president's condition in recent weeks, following rumors he was gravely ill in a hospital in Havana and might be unable to keep governing after being re-elected in October to a third term.
"(Chavez) has overcome the respiratory infection, although he still has a certain degree of respiratory insufficiency," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas told reporters in Chile, where Latin American and European leaders are meeting.
"Vice President (Nicolas) Maduro has estimated that Chavez could come back in weeks, but we haven't wanted to put a time frame on the president's recovery," Villegas added.