Putin meets Venezuelan president

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday.

Chavez visited the Kremlin on the eve of his 52nd birthday.

The two leaders’ meeting is the fifth since 2000.

Chavez is on days three of his visit Russia, where he came after visiting Belarus.

He has been to Volgograd and Izhevsk, where he has visited several factories and met legend arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov.

The presidents will discuss at the talks in the Grand Kremlin Palace trade, economic and military-technical cooperation, the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme and in the Middle East, as well as tendencies on the world oil market, a high-ranking Kremlin administration source told ITAR-TASS.

He said that the two countries’ stances on most of international issues are “close or coincident”.

“A main accent at the talks is to be made on matters of development of trade and economic relations, a potential of which is significant, even though it has been recruited far from fully,” he said.

Bilateral trade increased 62 percent in 2005, to 77 million dollars.

“A priority in economic cooperation is given to the fuel and energy sector,” the official said.

He explained that “the leading Russian companies like Gazprom, LUKOIL, Zarubezhneftegaz, Tekhnopromeksport, other firms and enterprises are actively unfolding

their activity on the Venezuelan market”.

Putin and Chavez will discuss the energy problems, “including in the channel of Russia’s initiatives to ensure global energy security”, the Kremlin official said.

“A number of major joint projects in the field of the ore mining industry, automobile, railway and air transport, machine-building, infrastructure, the banking and financial sphere are at a stage of elaboration,” he said.

“Bilateral military-technical cooperation that is accomplished on the basis of a respective

intergovernmental agreement in strict accordance with international obligations of the sides and international law norms is successfully developing.”

“The stances of Russia and Venezuela on most of international problems are close or coincident,” the Kremlin official said.

He said that “it is planned to discuss cooperation in the sphere of counteracting the modern threats and challenges, in the first place international terrorism, the illicit drug turnover, as well as the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme, the situation in the Middle East, other important international topics”.

“We expect new strategic decisions and agreements from the visit and the meeting with President Vladimir Putin,” Chavez said on his arrival in Russia.

“In particular, we are ready to sign in Moscow an accord on the construction in Venezuela of a pipe plant that will use Venezuelan steel and Russian technologies for the needs of the construction of a transcontinental gas pipeline with an 8,000 kilometre length that will provide with gas whole South America, and on the construction of an aluminium enterprise,”

he said.

Chavez said he was grateful to Russia for its arms exports that helped “break the policy of the US to completely disarm Venezuela”.

He cited an already signed a 1 billion dollar contract for Russia deliveries of Su-30 planes and helicopter gunships to Venezuela.

He added that Venezuela was ready to buy a license for production of Kalashnikov submachine guns.

“I am not an aggressor, and I have not come to Russia for arms for a war on all and against all. Simply the arms that our army had are outdated, and for this reason we want to replace them with newer and more reliable ones. Other countries do it too when necessary,” Chavez said.

[Source: Itar-Tass, Moscow, 27Jul06]

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