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Venezuela, Ecuador Sign Oil Deals

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has signed petroleum agreements with his Ecuadorean counterpart, Alfredo Palacio.

The leaders signed the deals Tuesday in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito.

Under the agreements, Venezuela is expected to refine up to 100,000 barrels of Ecuadorean crude per day at a discount, and officials say such a move would save Ecuador at least $300 million per year.

Another accord involves Venezuelan technical advice to state-run oil company Petroecuador.

Mr. Chavez told reporters Venezuela respects the internal politics of each country and only wants to integrate and come closer together.

Ecuadorean officials have said the agreements are economic in nature and do not signify a political alliance with Mr. Chavez, an opponent of U.S. policies.

Earlier this month, Ecuador voided its contract with Occidental Petroleum, a U.S. oil company, following a dispute over a stock sale.

Officials in Quito say Occidental transferred oil stocks to a Canadian oil company without notifying Ecuador's government. Occidental says it complied fully with all its obligations under its contract with Ecuador. The company also filed an arbitration claim in Washington.

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