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Venezuela's Chavez in China to Sign New Deals


Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is in China to sign agreements on economic cooperation. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, China has released few details on the deals so far.

President Chavez arrived in Beijing Tuesday for a three-day visit.

Before arriving, Mr. Chavez said it was likely the two countries would agree to replenish a $6 billion joint development fund. China and Venezuela also are working out plans to construct oil tankers and at least one oil refinery in China. About four percent of China's imported oil comes from Venezuela.

The Venezuelan leader wants to increase exports to China, in part to lower his country's dependence on the U.S. market.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Tuesday would not confirm any deals, including a report that Mr. Chavez will buy Chinese military planes. She indirectly indicated that China is not interested in becoming involved with Venezuela's often tense relationship with the United States.

She said China-Venezuela relations are normal state-to-state relations that China is willing to continue developing on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. She said China-Latin America relations do not have any ideological tint, do not target any third party, and do not influence any other country's relations with Venezuela.

Jiang had earlier said Mr. Chavez would meet with President Hu Jintao.

Venezuela sells about 60 percent of its oil to the United States. But Mr. Chavez opposes the U.S. and often is very confrontational with U.S. officials.

Tensions now are high between the two governments after Mr. Chavez expelled the U.S. ambassador and flaunted military ties with Russia, including military exercises in the sea off Venezuela.

Mr. Chavez stopped in Cuba, an ally, on his way to China.

After his visit to China Mr. Chavez will meet Russian leaders in Moscow before heading to Belarus, France, and Portugal.

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