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Chavez, Castro Seek to Strengthen Ties


Hugo Chavez, left, and President Fidel Castro greet people at inauguration of offices of PDVSA in Havana
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in Havana for a visit with Cuban leader Fidel Castro aimed at increasing economic ties between the two countries.

The two leaders inaugurated a new office in Havana of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Venezuela, one of the world's largest oil exporters, sells oil to Cuba at preferential rates.

Mr. Chavez and Mr. Castro signed a series of trade and other agreements Thursday. They also hope to promote a regional trade pact that would be an alternative to the U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

U.S. officials have criticized the close relationship between the leftist Mr. Chavez and Mr. Castro's communist government. In Brazil on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States remains concerned about the political situation in both countries.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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