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Chavez: Arms Deal With Spain to Go Ahead Despite US Objections


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government will press ahead with the purchase of Spanish military aircraft and naval vessels despite U.S. objections.

President Chavez said in a televised speech Wednesday that next Monday, Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono will be in Venezuela to sign the contracts for the 10 military transport planes and eight patrol boats.

The U.S. ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre, said Washington was still considering whether to block the transaction because the planes carried U.S. technology. But Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos says the sale is strictly a business deal and should not harm Spain's relations with the United States.

President Chavez has said Venezuela would use the aircraft and vessels to patrol land and sea borders to prevent drug trafficking.

Relations between Washington and Caracas have been tense in recent months, in part due to U.S. criticism of Venezuela's purchase of 100,000 Russian-made Kalashnikov rifles.

The United States has expressed concern the rifles might fall into the hands of leftist Colombian rebels.

Some information for this story provided by AP.

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