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Venezuelan, Russian Presidents Discuss Energy, Arms

Chavez (right) visiting an assualt-rifle plant in Izhevsk on July 26 (AFP) July 27, 2006 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin met Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in the Kremlin today to discuss expanded economic and military cooperation.

Chavez thanked Russia for agreeing to supply Venezuela with military aircraft in a planned deal reportedly worth $1 billion. He said Russia was helping Venezuela to break U.S. efforts to disarm it.

The United States has criticized Russia's decision to sell Venezuela 30 fighter jets and 30 military helicopters.

Washington prohibits U.S. companies from selling weapons to Venezuela, saying the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Chavez also called for increased Russian participation in gas and oil projects in Venezuela.

Putin wished Chavez success in Venezuela's December presidential election, in which Chavez plans to run for a second term.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax)

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