Wednesday, July 23, 2008
With a long shopping list for state-of-the-art defence equipment under his arm, Mr Chavez did his best to ingratiate himself with his hosts.
He first signed off on a deal giving Russia’s state-owned energy companies – often accused of doubling as private piggy banks for powerful Kremlin forces – exclusive rights to develop new deposits Venezuela’s Orinoco Oil Belt.
Then he switched smoothly to flattery, with a call for the Russian rouble to replace the US dollar as the world’s global currency.
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“We in OPEC have proposed to put an end to the dollar,” Mr Chavez said, speaking in his role as self-appointed spokesman for the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Mr Chavez was given correspondingly warm welcome as he met with one old friend, prime minister Vladimir Putin, and one new one in the form of president Dmitry Medvedev.
Mr Medvedev was particularly effusive, describing Venezuela as Russia’s “most important partner”.
Ignoring accusations of electoral fraud and authoritarianism that have been directed at both countries, Mr Medvedev told his guest: “We have one common task; to make the surrounding world more democratic, fair and secure.”
This article was posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 4:12 am