Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has begun a visit to Brazil for talks with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on energy cooperation and regional issues.

President Chavez arrived in the northern city of Recife Wednesday to meet with the Brazilian leader and tour the construction site of a refinery that, once completed, is expected to process 200,000 barrels of oil daily.

Officials have said the project will involve Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company and Venezuela's state-run Petroleos de Venezuela, PDVSA.

Separately, the presidents were expected to discuss Venezuela's pending membership in the South American trade bloc, Mercosur, which groups Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.  Mercosur accounts for $1 trillion in annual economic activity and includes 250 million people.

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