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Chavez touring Russia, Iran and Belarus

Filed under: Venezuela

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez started a six-day tour of Russia, Belarus and Iran during which he plans to discuss the possibility of buying weapons.

"Russia and Venezuela remain strategic partners in the energy sector, and this visit should serve to strengthen this cooperation," Chavez said at the opening ceremony of the Simon Bolivar Cultural Center in Moscow today. "Lukoil is already in Venezuela, and Mr. Bush doesn't like it," Chavez said.

Venezuela has already purchased some US$ 3 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets and other weapons.

In Belarus, the Venezuelan leader will probably discuss a plan to buy an air defense system equipped with radar and antiaircraft missiles.

Chavez then travels to Tehran for talks aimed at further deepening his ties with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is one of Venezuela's closest allies outside Latin America. Chavez dismissed speculation that he would sign an agreement with Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
"We don't need an atomic bomb, because we already have one: it is called the Venezuelan people,'' he said in a televised speech to thousands of supporters at a political rally in Caracas. "That has the force of 100 atomic bombs." (Reuters, APF )

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