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Hugo Chavez to talk in Moscow on bilateral coop plans up to 2014

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez

MOSCOW, October 14 (KATAKAMI / Itar-Tass) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is arriving in Moscow on Thursday in order to discuss with the Russian leadership plans of bilateral interaction up to 2014 that embrace such spheres as military-technical cooperation, creation of joint industrial facilities, financial institutions and housing construction. Over his two-day stay in Moscow he is to hold talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meet the Moscow leadership, as well as speak at the conference “Two Centuries of Independence of Latin America” that is opening at the Foreign Literature Library on Thursday.

The main result of the visit is expected to be the signing of the Action Plan that, according to the idea of the two countries’ Foreign Ministries, will lay foundations for the development of cooperation for a period up to 2014. The document specifies interaction in such spheres as he foreign policy, financial sector, oil and gas industry, military-technical cooperation, nuclear power industry, telecommunications, agriculture, fisheries, transport, education, health, tourism, sports, culture, liquidation of natural calamities’ aftermath.

Observers say that the fulfilment of the Action Plan tasks will ensure the bilateral trade growth the lion’s share of which is military-technical cooperation.

Venezuela is already the region’s unquestionable leader in the volumes of contracts concluded with Rosoboronexport Russia’s arms exporting company. The sum of contractual obligations exceeds 4 billion US dollars. So, this Latin American country is completing the construction of three military plants – for manufacturing of the AK (Kalashnikov) assault rifles, for the production of cartridges and an aircraft repair plant for servicing Russian helicopter equipment. The supplies of the Tor-M1 air defence missile systems have begun.

Besides, Venezuela intends to buy 10 Ilyushin Il-76MD-90 planes and two Il-78MK refuelling aircraft. Caracas has also confirmed plans for the purchase of up to 10 attack helicopters Mi-28NE in addition to the earlier bought 10 Mi-35M helicopters. In the view of the Rosoboronexport leadership, the country may also become the first export customer for the Sukhoi Su-35 fighters.

Russia also intends to supply to Venezuela a batch of the T-90S tanks. Caracas assesses its need for this class of military equipment at 600 units.

As a result, according to RF Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the volume of Russian military equipment exports to Venezuela may reach in the near future 5 billion US dollars.

Aside from military-technical cooperation, the two countries have also been developing active civilian cooperation. During a visit of the Russian prime minister to Caracas this April, the Sovcomflot company and the Venezuelan PDV Marina specialising in sea transportation, signed an agreement on intent. Ilyushin Finance and Aeroflot concluded memorandums of understanding with the Venezuelan side. They signed several documents within the framework of the implementation of a project for the joint prospecting and oil production in the basin of the Orinoco River – the Junin-6 field. Besides, Moscow transferred to Caracas 4 transport helicopters Mi-26 thus fulfilling a long-term contract on the supply of 28 such helicopters.

Russia also holds negotiations on the sale of another 50 civilian planes to Venezuela – An-148 and Be-200.

The two sides’ agenda also includes cooperation in the atomic power sphere, Hugo Chavez, in particular, drew attention to the fact that Caracas can build a nuclear power plant in the country with Moscow’s support.

Within the current visit’s framework the Venezuelan leader will also sign the final document on the establishment of a Russian-Venezuelan bank the work on which has been in progress since June 2009. The sides will also create a joint structure with the authorised capital of up to 4 billion US dollars on the basis of Evrofinance-Mosnarbank. It is planned that the Russian side – VTB Bank and Gazprombank will get a 51-percent stake in it. The shareholders from Venezuela will be the State Treasury Bank and the Venezuelan Petroleum Corporation. Experts particularly noted that the bank will make it possible to give financing to joint programmes in a mutually beneficial basis.

Another important issue Chavez plans to touch upon in Moscow is Russia’ s assistance to the construction of social housing for the poorest groups of the population of his country. A delegation of the Moscow government led by former mayor Yuri Luzhkov this May already held talks in Caracas on RF assistance in the working out of the general plan for the development of the Venezuelan capital. They discussed not only construction of dwelling houses, but also the programme of building schools, kindergartens, hospitals, cinema houses, roads, bridges and utilities. In connection with the personnel changes in the Moscow government it remains unknown so far if this project will be viable.

Chavez said earlier that his upcoming official visit to would aim to enhance strategic relations with Russia. “Today Russia is a world power and one of the global poles of power,” the president said in an address to the nation before flying to Moscow. Chavez said he planned to sign “official documents on the creation of a Russian-Venezuelan bank” during the visit. The joint bank will be headquartered in Moscow and have offices in China and Venezuela. Another important item on the agenda will be the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. “The first projects are bring drafted to build a nuclear power plant in Venezuela,” he said. “During the visit, the sides will review all agreements on military-technical cooperation with Russia,” Chavez said. “New military hardware will begin to be supplied to Venezuela shortly, at the end of this year and the beginning of next year: several battalions of modern tanks and air defence systems.”

The visit of the Venezuelan president to Russia – the ninth since 2001 – will last until October 15. Then Hugo Chavez will continue his 12-day foreign tour during which he will visit Belarus, Ukraine, Iran, Syria and Portugal.

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