Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he is looking forward to meeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Moscow, to discuss prospects for trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Mr. Putin made the comments to Venezuela's Vice President Ramon Carrizales during talks in Moscow Thursday.  The Russian leader said it is unfortunate that the volume of trade and economic cooperation between the countries is so small.

Russian news agencies quote Carrizales as saying Mr. Chavez's visit may take place at the end of July, but they gave no specific date.

Cooperation between Russia and Venezuela has been focused on the energy and mining sectors.  Venezuela also is a major buyer of Russian weapons.

Last year, trade between the two nations exceeded $1 billion.

In recent years, Russia has sold military helicopters and Sukhoi fighter jets to Venezuela, which also has purchased 100,000 Kalashnikov-style rifles from the Russians.

The United States bans arms sales to Venezuela, citing its links to Cuba and Iran.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.