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Venezuela's Chavez To Visit Gas-Rich Turkmenistan

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
ASHGABAT (Reuters) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a proponent of a global gas suppliers' cartel, will visit Central Asia's main gas producer Turkmenistan on September 6-7, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has said.

The meeting of the two leaders will be "a good foundation for further development of mutually beneficial long-term cooperation," Berdymukhammedov said on state television.

He did not outline the agenda of the meeting, but a Turkmen government source told Reuters he expected energy cooperation issues to come up.

Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, is seeking to diversify gas exports after Russia halted imports in April in the midst of a dispute between the two countries.

Russia, the Turkmens' main partner, has called for a review of supply terms as a result of its dwindling demand for natural gas.

Before the row, Turkmenistan used to sell about 50 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Russia, or about two-thirds of its total output.

U.S. foe Chavez is a strong supporter of Moscow's idea to create an international cartel of gas producers similar to OPEC which could boost their clout in the global market.