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Putin Holds Talks With Venezuelan, Bolivian Presidents

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez held talks in Caracas on April 2 during Putin's first visit to Venezuela.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has held talks in Caracas with the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia to discuss deepening cooperation between Russia and the two South American nations.

Putin arrived in the Venezuelan capital on April 2 -- bringing with him the last four of Venezuela's purchase of 38 Mi-17 military transport helicopters.

The Russian and Venezuelan sides are reported to have also signed more than 30 agreements and declarations on deepening cooperation in areas ranging from agriculture to air transport.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who met with Putin at the Miraflores presidential palace, said Russia has offered to help Venezuela set up its own space industry, including a satellite launch site, and reiterated that Moscow was ready to help Venezuela develop nuclear energy to generate electricity.

"As far as nuclear power goes, we have discussed the issue and we are ready to begin the first project to develop nuclear power, for peaceful purposes, obviously," Chavez said.

Another centerpiece of Putin's visit has been the launch of a joint venture between a consortium of Russian firms and the Venezuelan state-run oil company to extract oil from Venezuela's Orinoco River basin. Officials have said they plan on the venture producing 50,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of the year.

Putin said Russia is also prepared to extend a $2.2 billion credit line to Venezuela for more Russian arms purchases.

Putin also held talks in Caracas with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who said Bolivia is seeking a loan from Russia to buy helicopters to combat drug trafficking.

compiled from agency reports