Chavez set to sign deals in Russia

Venezuelan president embarks on seven-nation tour to discuss issues ranging from energy and defence to olive oil.

    Chavez is on a 10-day diplomatic tour aimed at weakening US dominance in world affairs [Reuters]

    Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has begun a tour of seven nations including Russia, Iran and Libya to discuss issues ranging from nuclear power and tanks to olive oil.

    The first stop in the 10-day tour is Moscow, where an agreement to develop nuclear energy, the purchase of Russian tanks and a bi-national bank are on the agenda.

    "We are still working on the nuclear energy issue with Russia," Chavez said before departing for Russia.

    "We are already elaborating projects for the first thermo-nuclear plant in Venezuela."

    Chavez is a fervent opponent of US foreign power and sees many of the countries on his itinerary as sharing his goal of lessening US dominance in world affairs.

    He said Venezuela's interest in nuclear power was for peaceful purposes, aimed at reducing a dependence on oil for electricity production.

    In 2008 Russia's state-run atomic energy company Rosatom signed a deal to sell the Latin American nation the technology and expertise to build a reactor.

    Growing dominance

    Chavez will take in another US foe, Iran, as well as Syria and Libya in the Middle East.

    In Europe, Chavez will visit Ukraine and Belarus, both of which now receive shipments of Venezuelan oil, as well as Portugal.

    Earlier this year, Venezuela signed an agreement with Syria to import olive oil. The two countries also have a long-delayed plan to build a refinery in the country.

    "We are going back to Syria to adjust our agreements in trade, the economy and energy," Chavez said. "We are already bringing over olive oil and we are creating a joint venture."

    Venezuela hopes to export products such as bananas and chocolate to its allies.

    In the past three years Chavez has bought at least $5bn in weapons including fighter jets, anti-aircraft missile systems and tanks from Russia.

    Russia, which is seeking to export atomic energy expertise, defends its deals with Venezuela, which is a signatory of non-proliferation treaties.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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