Venezuelan President to discuss Middle East, oil and gas ties in Malaysian visit

Venezuela's President will arrive in Malaysia on Sunday for talks expected to focus on the political situation in the Middle East and cooperation in the oil and gas industry, officials said.

President Hugo Chavez will begin a four-day visit in Kuala Lumpur after a week-long trip to China, Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried late on Friday by the national news agency, Bernama.

Chavez will attend a state welcome ceremony at the Parliament on Monday, followed by a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The leaders will discuss international issues of common concern, particularly the Middle East, the statement said, without elaborating.

Malaysia, which chairs the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, has strongly criticized Israel's attacks in Lebanon and its policies toward the Palestinians.

Chavez on Friday condemned the Israeli attacks in Lebanon, comparing them to the acts of Adolf Hitler.

The statement said the visit will present an opportunity for Venezuela to explore close cooperation with Malaysia in the oil and gas industries, as well the palm oil sector.

Malaysia, which is also a major palm oil producer, will host Chavez on a tour of an oil palm plantation.

Chavez will address a business forum, and both countries will sign a pact on avoidance of double taxation.

[Source By Associated Press, The Hindu, Kuala Lumpur, 27Aug06]

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