Venezuela Interested in Cooperating With Belarusian Military Industry - Analyst

MINSK. July 24 (Interfax) - One of the reasons behind Venezuela's interest in economic cooperation with Belarus is Belarus' well- developed military industry, political analyst Vladimir Ulakhovich said.

"Belarus looks interesting to Venezuela because of the industrial nature of its economy and the level of its technological development, including that of its military industrial sector," Ulakhovich told Interfax.

At the same time, "it is very difficult to separate economic cooperation from political interaction these days," he said.

The expansion of Belarusian ties with Latin American countries is "a long-term policy," but the development of relations with Venezuela does not contradict the European direction of Minsk's foreign policy, he said.

Belarusian-Venezuelan military-technological cooperation is currently focused on the building of an air defense and an electronic warfare support system for Venezuela, which is to be deployed within six years.

Pyotr Tikhonovsky, a deputy chief of staff of the Belarusian armed forces, said earlier that there were plans "to supply Venezuela with an air defense system, including the training of specialists and the command personnel, within six years."

In addition, Belarus plans to send more than ten military advisers to Venezuela in 2008, and later the number of Belarusian military experts posted in Venezuela will be increased. Venezuela will finance the presence of the military observers and their families in its territory.

Belarus also plans to post its ambassador in Venezuela. Valentin Gurinovich, a deputy industry minister and a former director of the MAZ truck plant, has passed all preliminary qualification procedures to be appointed to this position.