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Venezuelan Leader Eyes Oil Deals in China


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in China, where he is hoping to secure more oil deals to reduce his country's economic dependence on the United States.

Mr. Chavez traveled to Beijing from Japan late Tuesday on his sixth visit to China.

Chinese state media say he is scheduled to meet President Hu Jintao and Vice President Xi Jinping during his three-day trip.

In Japan, Mr. Chavez said Tokyo had agreed to invest $33.5 billion in oil and gas projects in Venezuela.

He also told reporters in Japan that he welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's call for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Chavez said Venezuela is observing and evaluating the new Obama administration, and that in the framework of respect, dialogue is possible.

But, he said the U.S. should apologize for dropping atomic bombs on Japan at the end of World War II.

The comments signaled a softened stance toward the new U.S. leader, who Mr. Chavez previously called ignorant for accusing Venezuela of exporting terrorism.

Mr. Chavez was a harsh critic of Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. The Venezuelan leader says he had a problem with Mr. Bush, not the United States.

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