The leaders of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have met in Caracas with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez is quoted as saying that his July 23 meeting with separatist leaders Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia and Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia focused on the development of cooperation between Venezuela and the two regions.
Chavez is quoted as saying he would also encourage other Latin American nations -- such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina -- to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries.
Venezuela is one of four countries -- the others being Russia, Nicaragua, and the small South Pacific island nation of Nauru -- that have recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent.
The recognition was extended following the brief 2008 war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia.
The rest of the world does not recognize the independence of the regions, considering them still part of Georgia.
Reports say Venezuelan officials also signed a series of agreements with the Abkhazian and South Ossetian delegations on establishing formal diplomatic relations and on potential future cooperation.
compiled from agency reports