November 16, 2007
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Thursday said his country will start to develop nuclear energy with peaceful goals with a program similar to those in Brazil and Argentina.
''Venezuela is going to start to also develop its nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, like Brazil and Argentina are doing,'' he told the television network France-24 in an interview.
A transcript of the interview posted on the network's website quotes Chávez as saying that he believes other countries should also move toward nuclear energy as ``one of the elements of the solution to the energy crisis that threatens the world, with the decline in reserves and the increase in the prices of oil.''
The Venezuelan president's statement came after he was asked about relations between Iran and Venezuela. ''Iran is developing nuclear energy with peaceful goals, I am sure,'' he was quoted as saying. ``We are on Iran's side and, no, I don't think that Iran is manufacturing an atomic bomb.''
The populist Chávez has embarked his oil-rich nation on a shift toward ''21st century socialism'' and tried to line up a Latin American bloc of friendly nations to counter U.S. influence in the region.
Chávez also confirmed that he will meet in Paris Tuesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He is expected to attend an OPEC conference in Saudi Arabia over the weekend.
The central theme of the meeting with Sarkozy will be the swap he's trying to negotiate with Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas -- several dozen hostages held by the FARC, including Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate with French-Colombian citizenship -- in exchange for some 500 rebels held in Colombian prisons.