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Lukashenka Offers Venezuela Military Help

President Hugo Chavez and his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka embrace each other at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has offered Belarusian help to strengthen the military of Venezuela.

Speaking March 16 during his visit to the South American country, Lukashenka said Belarus was ready to share with Venezuela its experience of creating an integrated defense system.

The president did not give further details on what type of support Belarus could provide to Venezuela's military, but said Venezuela should be able to live peacefully without worrying about potential foreign threats. He did not say what those threats could be.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reportedly expressed interest in acquiring radar and antiaircraft missiles from Belarus.

On March 15, as Lukashenka opened his visit to Caracas, Chavez said Venezuela was ready to begin selling 80,000 barrels of oil per day to Belarus from the start of May.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has visited Belarus for a meeting in the city of Brest of the Russia-Belarus Union State Council of Ministers.

Putin pledged to provide Belarus with inexpensive gas and oil supplies that could save the Minsk government more than $4 billion this year.

Putin also backed Russia and Belarus moving faster toward the establishment of joint single currency.

compiled from agency reports