Russia, Venezuela in new pacts, 'counterweight' to US cited

Friday, Sept 26, 2008

Russia said Friday it would bolster ties with Venezuela as the leaders of the two states met amid what the Kremlin described as efforts to forge a "solid counterweight" to the United States.

"Today we will sign a series of agreements to strengthen our cooperation," President Dmitry Medvedev said as he greeted his fiercely anti-US Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez.

The Russian president did not provide details on the agreements to be signed but described them as "multi-faceted" and stated: "I mean cooperation in the economic and military spheres."

The leaders were expected to sign two specific energy agreements at their meeting, a Kremlin spokeswoman said.

Medvedev's spoke after Chavez, making his third visit to Russia since June 2007, met outside Moscow late Thursday with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who offered Russian help for developing nuclear power in Venezuela.

Chavez's visit to Russia came amid tension in the Russian-US relationship that soared in the wake of the conflict last month between Russia and Georgia, a US ally geographically situated in a vital energy transport area.

Speaking through a translator, Chavez thanked his "friend" Medvedev and reiterated his backing for Russia's recent actions in Georgia.

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