Russia and Venezuela made plans to set up a joint venture to develop Venezuela's oil reserves as they signed a series of agreements meant to forge a closer relationship between the two allies.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin met with Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez Saturday in St. Petersburg for talks focused on energy and arms.

Sechin told a news conference that the Orinoco oil belt project could cost up to $30 billion and is estimated to yield 53 billion barrels. 

Sechin also said Russia has not ruled out supplying Venezuela with tanks or other military supplies.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Saturday the country's ties with nations like Russia and Belarus have gained importance as the United States moves to expand its military presence in Latin America.

Mr. Chavez said there are "significant reasons" to accelerate cooperation plans with allies because of an agreement between Colombia and the U.S. to run anti-drug operations off Colombian bases.

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