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Venezuela's Chavez Recognizes Breakaway Georgian Regions as Independent


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has recognized Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries.

Venezuela is now the only other country to recognize their independence along with Russia and Nicaragua.

Mr. Chavez told Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow Thursday that he will soon establish diplomatic relations with the two Georgian regions.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry condemned Venezuela's move as a "highly unfriendly step" and a flagrant violation of international law. But it says it believes a new democratically-elected Venezuelan government will overturn the decision.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman called Venezuela's recognition "unfortunate." He repeated U.S. support for Georgia's territorial integrity and noted that most other countries hold the same view.

President Medvedev also announced that Russia will sell Venezuela tanks and whatever weapons it asks for.

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

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