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Russian Arms Sales to Venezuela Could Total $5 Billion


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia could sell as much as $5 billion worth of weapons to Venezuela.

Mr. Putin spoke in Moscow Monday, following his first visit to the South American country.

During his visit late last week, Russia agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans to build a nuclear power plant.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday the goal of the power plant is to develop nuclear energy for "peaceful purposes," and not to develop a bomb.

Mr. Chavez has forged close ties with Russia in recent years and has spent more than $4 billion on Russian-made weapons. Venezuela relies on China and Russia as its main military suppliers.

The United States has previously cautioned Venezuela against continuing its arms buildup, warning its actions could endanger regional stability.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Chavez signed agreements aimed at deepening their countries' financial and military ties. They also formalized an agreement to establish a joint venture for oil and gas exploration in eastern Venezuela.

Mr. Putin finished his trip to Venezuela Friday by meeting with both Bolivian President Evo Morales and President Chavez in Caracas.

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

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