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Hugo Chavez will arrive to Russia Monday on a three-day visit
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's outspoken left-wing leader, will arrive in Moscow Monday on a three-day visit that is expected to focus on increasing trade and consolidating close bilateral ties. Russia and Venezuela already have significant arms contracts in the bag - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday the two countries had signed a $1-billion contract on military aircraft - but a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said Chavez's fourth trip to Russia would concentrate on trade and economic cooperation. Mikhail Kamynin said the two nation's potential had not been exploited to the full. In 2005, bilateral trade grew 61.8% to over $77 million and is expected to grow further this year. "The upcoming visit of Hugo Chavez should give an extra boost to friendly relations and constructive cooperation between our countries," Kamynin said. The spokesman said Chavez would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, and trade and industry officials. With Chavez looking to open a plant to make Kalashkinov assault rifles and ammunition in his homeland, he is also set to visit defense-industry plants in the central Russian city of Izhevsk and will tour other factories in the southern city of Volgograd. Energy is also a crucial area in cooperation between oil-rich Venezuela and Russia, a major exporter of oil and natural gas, and other resources. Russia's energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP], largest independent oil producer LUKoil [RTS: LKOH], Tekhnopromexport, which builds power facilities, and other companies have a long track record in Venezuela. Chavez told national radio earlier in July that Russia had been invited to join the construction of the world's longest gas pipeline across South America. But Kamynin said the two countries were also moving to diversify their cooperation and were discussing a series of joint projects in mining, transportation, machine building, infrastructure, banking, the high-tech sphere and fishing.
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