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Venezuela's Chavez to visit Russia next week

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he will Russia next week.

"Next week I will travel to China, Portugal and then Russia," he told a news conference in Caracas, without giving any details on the date of his Russian trip.

Chavez is due to hold talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders during a two-day visit to the country on September 23-25.

Chavez met with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who is on the second leg of a tour of the region, on Tuesday. Sechin arrived in Caracas from Havana, where he had carried out a damage assessment of Cuba following two recent hurricanes.

The talks, which were also attended by Sergei Shmatko, the energy minister and the state technology corporation CEO, Sergei Chemezov lasted two hours and focused on energy, manufacturing, shipbuilding, education, science, car production and culture.

The deputy premier told journalists after the meeting, "we reviewed projects, currently under development as part of a high-level inter-governmental commission and agreed that the next meeting would be held in October in Caracas."

Sechin called Venezuela "one of Russia's most reliable partners" in the military sphere and said that both sides were developing military-technical cooperation.

The visit by the Russian delegation coincided with a six-hour patrol flight by Russian strategic bombers along the South American coast on Tuesday. The two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers arrived in Venezuela last week and are due to return to Russia on Thursday. (VIDEO)

The controversial flights, close to U.S. borders, have been criticized by the Bush administration with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accusing Russia of playing a "dangerous game."

RIA Novosti

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