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Russia's Medvedev Arrives in Venezuela


Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has arrived in Venezuela on a visit that coincides with Russia's first deployment of warships in the Caribbean since the Cold War.

President Medvedev arrived in the capital, Caracas, Wednesday for meetings with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez. The visit to the South American oil-exporting country is the first by a Russian president.

Mr. Medvedev's arrival comes one day after the Russian warships sailed into a Venezuelan port for joint military exercises that begin December first.

The U.S. State Department has said Washington will carefully monitor the maneuvers, but has dismissed the notion that they represent a challenge to U.S. influence in the region.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the presence of the warships will not change the balance of power in the region.

President Chavez has said the exercises are not a provocation.

President Medvedev flew to Venezuela from Brazil, where he met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Both leaders agreed that Russia should host a summit of the world's four leading emerging market nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - next year.

The two presidents also agreed to boost military cooperation and diversify trade. Mr. Medvedev said he hopes to double trade with Brazil in the coming years.

The Kremlin leader's stops in Brazil and Venezuela are part of a Latin American tour that already has taken him to Peru. He will end his tour of the region in Cuba.

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

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