Chávez wants more Russian investment

Por Venezuela Real - 29 de Junio, 2007, 20:41, Categoría: Prensa Internacional

Miami Herald
June 29, 2007

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Friday called on Russian business leaders to boost their investment in his country, criticizing U.S. companies as ''vampires'' and inviting Russians to help develop a massive oil deposit.

The firebrand leader and vehement U.S. critic also reportedly confirmed that his country would be negotiating with Russia about purchasing submarines. Russian media have speculated that one of Chávez's key goals during his trip to Moscow was to arrange new major purchase of Russian weaponry.

At a meeting with Russian lawmakers, Chávez again suggested that the United States had threatened Venezuela and was categorically opposed to Venezuela's buying submarines, according to Russian news agencies.

''We have a big area of water in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and in as much that America is constantly threatening us, we need to defend our revolution,'' Chávez was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass.

Chávez arrived Wednesday amid widespread speculation that he wanted to sign a major arms deal, and President Vladimir Putin said the weapons trade was among the topics of talks late Thursday when he met with Chávez.

Earlier Friday, an official with the Russian arms sales monopoly Rosoboronexport said the sides were in talks on the possible purchase of five Project 636 Kilo-class diesel submarines, according to a news report.

''We are conducting these talks, and I hope that this agreement is possible,'' Innokenty Naletov was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti. He said there were also talks on supplies of military equipment for ground and air forces.

Caracas already has purchased some $3 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets and other weapons. The United States has voiced concern about Venezuela's military spending.

Chávez told Russian business leaders that he expects development of a ''road map'' that will boost and diversify Russian-Venezuelan business ties -- especially in the energy sector, including construction of a natural gas pipeline and oil refineries.

''We are very satisfied with the presence of Russian companies in our oil industry, and will do our best to develop this cooperation further,'' he said in an address to Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said that at dinner Thursday night with Putin, they agreed to create a fund to support joint projects. With Russia's help, Venezuela is ready to build four oil refineries and plans another 13, he said.

He also invited Russian oil companies to help develop the Orinoco River basin, recognized as the world's single-largest known oil deposit, potentially holding 1.2 trillion barrels of extra-heavy crude.

U.S. giants ExxonMobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips refused to sign deals this week to keep pumping heavy oil under tougher terms in the basin, signaling their departure from the deposit as Chávez tightens state control over the oil industry.

Other major oil companies Chevron Corp., Britain's BP PLC, France's Total SA and Norway's Statoil ASA accepted the terms, taking new minority stakes

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