Belarus And Venezuela Sign Oil Deal

(RTTNews) - Russian news agencies reported Wednesday that Belarus would strengthen cooperation with Venezuela on renewed friendship and support.

On his third visit to Belarus, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed an oil deal with his Belarussian counterpart President Alexander Lukashenko and agreed to expand cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries. The joint venture BeloVenezolana, would exploit three oilfields in Venezuela. The new deal is expected to roughly triple the joint venture's capacity to two million tons of oil a year.

Chavez said that he hoped to double bilateral trade and improve other economic ties as well. He flew in from Moscow where earlier he signed three contracts expanding the presence of Russian oil and natural gas companies in Latin America.

Chavez also suggested a strategic energy and arms alliance between Venezuela and Russia to help guarantee Venezuelan sovereignty, which he says is threatened by the United States.

Belarus has not been the best of friends with the United States when it imposed sanctions against the country last November over alleged human rights abuses.

Belarus and Venezuela are already involved in joint ventures in oil production and refining, seismic survey, gas supplies, construction, industrial production, and agriculture.