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Belarus, Venezuela Strengthen Energy, Trade Ties During Lukashenka Visit

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (center) and his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, visit a housing complex in the central Maracay state of Aragua on March 16.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (center) and his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, visit a housing complex in the central Maracay state of Aragua on March 16.
Venezuela and Belarus have reached a series of agreements aimed at strengthening their energy and trade ties during Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's visit to Caracas.

AP reports that Lukashenka and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have agreed to invest $1.6 billion to create a joint venture to develop oil and natural gas projects in Venezuela.

Chavez is quoted as saying the projects are expected to produce 200 million cubic feet of natural gas a day by 2012.

"We are not only going to extract natural gas together with you, but also oil, and we will build cities and roads," Lukashenka told reporters during a news conference with Chavez at the Venezuelan presidential palace. "The fundamental aspect is that we want to teach the Venezuelan people."

Under the agreements signed on March 17, Belarus has also pledged to build public housing complexes and a factory to manufacture tractors and trucks in Venezuela, and the two nations have also agreed to boost trade in construction materials and equipment.

Earlier this week, Lukashenka and Chavez reached a deal in which Belarus will import 80,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Venezuela beginning in May. Belarus largely depends on Russia for its energy needs, but is apparently starting to diversify its suppliers.

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