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October 14, 2010

Russia and Venezuela Finalize Nuclear Power Plant Deal

Russia has signed an agreement to help build Venezuela's first nuclear power plant.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez finalized the deal Friday in Moscow, during talks on joint energy, defense and finance ventures.  Mr. Chavez said the nuclear energy plant will help Venezuela reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The deal comes soon after Russia finished helping Iran build its first nuclear power plant.  

Mr. Medvedev said he knows the deal with Venezuela will make other countries uncomfortable, but he said it is necessary for the South American country's development.

Venezuela is a leading global exporter of oil and ranks among the top three in crude oil reserves.

Russia and Venezuela have forged close ties during Mr. Chavez's term in office, marked by his belligerent relationship with the United States.  

U.S. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Friday that the United States will closely watch the development of Venezuela's nuclear power plant, and that he expects Russia and the South American country to abide by international nuclear cooperation standards.

Mr. Chavez is in Russia as part of a 10-day international tour aimed at strengthening ties with allies.  His trip also has stops in Iran, Syria, Belarus, Ukraine and Portugal.

Russia's state oil company also agreed Friday to buy $1.6 billion in oil assets from Venezuela.

Moscow also has become a main weapons supplier to the South American nation, with an arms deal totaling more than $4 billion.

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