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Venezuela's Chavez Welcomes Lukashenka

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (left) and his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, embrace at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has given a warm welcome to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Chavez, welcoming Lukashenka to Caracas, said the two nations had "not only built a true strategic alliance, but a sense of brotherhood."

Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, has faced U.S. and European sanctions over his brutal crackdown on the opposition following disputed elections in December 2010.

Chavez, in power since 1999, is campaigning for reelection this year despite a yearlong battle with cancer.

Chavez and Lukashenka reaffirmed their determination to further develop ties, while officials from the two sides signed some 20 cooperation agreements.

Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS