Lukashenko: Belarus to strengthen co-op with Venezuela

MOSCOW, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Belarus will strengthen cooperation with Venezuela and find a solution to any problem facing Caracas, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.

Minsk and Caracas enjoyed "real friendship," and Belarus is "ready to find a friendly, brotherly solution to any problem for Venezuela," Lukashenko told his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavezin Minsk.

Chavez, who made his first visit to Belarus two years ago, said "both countries reached great progress in mutually advantageous trade, economic and political interaction."

Trade between Belarus and Venezuela increased 268 percent in the first five months of 2008 year-on-year to about 50 million U.S. dollars. The Venezuela leader expected to double trade turnover by promoting cooperation.

The two countries are involved in joint projects in oil production and refining, seismic survey, gas supplies, construction, industrial production and agriculture.

"Cooperation in oil prospecting is underway, and there is a project of launching the production of equipment and machinery in Venezuela," Chavez said. About 40 Venezuelan specialists will arrive in Belarus soon to implement this project, he said.

Chavez arrived in the Belarussian capital on Wednesday after a visit to Moscow, where he held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on political, economic and military cooperation.