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  Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Belarus's president said on Tuesday he
Belarus's president said on Tuesday he was set to pay his first ever visit to Venezuela in the next few days to advance agreements on joint oil production in the Latin American state.

"This is going to be a special visit," Alexander Lukashenko said. "It will take place as cooperation in many spheres is in full swing. We will virtually start producing oil in Venezuela during my visit."

Earlier reports said Lukashenko's visit would take place in early or mid-December, but did not give a precise date.

The outspoken Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, visited the ex-Soviet state last July, and announced that he and President Lukashenko, both fierce critics of the United States, had established a "strategic alliance" to counter "hegemonic" capitalism.

Belarus's state-owned petrochemical company Belneftekhim, which processes mainly Russian crude, plans to start producing and refining oil in Venezuela and to sell it on Latin American markets.

Lukashenko said Belarus looked to oil projects in Venezuela, Latin America's largest oil producer and the seventh biggest producer in the world, and a key player in the region. He said cooperation with Belarus, located on the crossroads of Asia and Europe, was also of interest to Caracas.

He said an exhibit of Belarusian goods would be held in the country during his visit.

The U.S. and European countries have accused Lukashenko of clamping down on dissent, stifling the media and rigging elections. Lukashenko, who was re-elected to a third term last year, and other senior Belarusian officials have been blacklisted from entering the U.S. and EU.

Washington, which dubbed Belarus "Europe's last dictatorship," banned all dealings between Americans and Belneftekhim and froze the company's assets under U.S. jurisdiction in mid-November.


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