Chavez talks oil and guns in Belarus

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is heading to Minsk to hold talks with his Belarusian counterpart Aleksandr Lukashenko. The two leaders will work on establishing closer energy and business ties as well as building stronger military links.

Hugo Chavez is expected to visit a public garden in Minsk, which has been named after renowned Latin-Amercian revolutionary Simon Bolivar.

Two Belarus-Venezuelan oil companies already exist and a third is said to be in the pipeline. It's expected to provide services in oil production, according to the Itar-Tass news agency, which referred to the Venezuelan ambassador to Belarus Americo Diaz Nunez.

Venezuela is reportedly hiring a Belarusian labour force to build houses in the Latin American country. It's also reported that Chavez has made a pre-payment of $US 90 million to Belarus to build a construction materials plant near Caracas.

Belarusians will also be hired to lay gas pipelines in the city of Barinas.

Cash-rich Chavez, flush because of high oil prices, is expected to give Belarus credit worth $US 500 million.

The meeting in Belarus is not the first between Chavez and Lukashenko. The Venezuelan leader has been to Minsk twice since coming to power. Lukashenko, who is barred from traveling to the U.S. and Europe, has been to Venezuela once.