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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Two dictators find friendship

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias is in Belarus. On Monday, Chavez conferred with his "new friend" Alexander Lukashenko.

Chavez, the first Latin American leader to visit Belarus, told reporters after his meeting with Lukashenko, "I have found a new friend here, and together we will form a team, a combative team."

Belarus's Belta news agency reported on July 24 that Chavez proposed that Venezuela and Belarus form a "strategic alliance."

Chavez and Lukashenko signed a joint declaration and two cooperation agreements, one dealing with science and technology, and another covering energy and petrochemicals.

Lukashenko said, "This visit opens a new page in the history of relations between our states. Belarus welcomes a Latin American president for the first time and we are pleased that it is Hugo Chavez," praising Chavez as "a true patriot of his country, who staunchly defends the principles of independence and social justice."

Chavez was later visiting Russia, where he wwas signing a contract to purchase 30 Sukhoi-30MK2 fighter aircraft and 30 military helicopters. In 2005, Venezuela bought 10 military helicopters and 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles from Russia. The value of the new contract is over $1 billion.
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