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Belarus, Ecuador Pledge Defense Cooperation

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (seated left) with Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa (seated right) at a joint press conference in Quito on June 28.
Ecuador and Belarus have agreed to develop closer military ties.

The defense agreement was signed during a visit to Quito by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on June 28.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa told reporters Belarus is important for its technological advances and commitment to socialism.

He and Lukashenka -- criticized by the West for rights abuses and authoritarian rule -- also signed agreements on trade, education, agriculture, and the exchange of diplomats.

Lukashenka's two-day visit followed stops in Cuba and Venezuela.

Based on reporting by AP