"We agreed with President Lula that we will co-ordinate our efforts with Brazil in fighting the crisis and creating a new global financial architecture."

 US 'watching closely'

Medvedev has said he wants to restore "privileged relations" with Latin American states that had close ties to the then-Soviet Union during the Cold War, when the region was the scene of fierce superpower rivalry between Moscow and Washington.

The arrival in Venezuelan waters of Russian warships on Tuesday to take part in the exercises has been portrayed by Russian media as mirroring US deployments in the Black Sea in support of Georgia, which recently fought with Russia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

However, Russian officials have denied that the exercises are aimed at "third countries" and Chavez, Venezuela's president, rejected talk of provocation on Monday, describing the exercises as an exchange between "free, sovereign countries."

Sean McCormack, the US state department spokesman, said on Tuesday: "I don't think there's any question about ... who the region looks to in terms of political, economic, diplomatic and as well as military power.

"If the Venezuelans and the Russians want to have a military exercise, that's fine. But we'll obviously be watching it very closely," he said.

On Thursday, Medvedev is expected to visit the Russian ships in the port of La Guaira ahead of the patrol and rescue exercises, which begin on December 1 and involve Venezuelan forces and four Russian vessels carrying about 1,600 personnel.