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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 02:08 GMT
Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal
A woman in Massachusetts wears a T-shirt of Hugo Chavez as an oil deal is signed
The deal will help tens of thousands of poorer Massachusetts residents
Officials from Venezuela and Massachusetts have signed a deal to provide cheap heating oil to low-income homes in the US state.

The fuel will be sold at about 40% below market prices to thousands of homes over the winter months.

Local congressman William Delahunt described the deal as "an expression of humanitarianism at its very best".

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is one of the Bush administration's biggest adversaries in Latin America.

He first announced his plan to provide cheap heating oil directly to lower-income Americans while visiting Cuba in August.

'About people'

The deal involves shipping some 45m litres of heating oil from Venezuela to Massachusetts at a discounted rate via Citgo Petroleum, a US-based subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.

Low income home owners who do buy home heating oil are only poor by American standards
Mark, USA

At a signing ceremony in Massachusetts, Mr Delahunt - a Democrat who helped broker the deal - rejected suggestions that it was politically motivated.

"This is a gesture about people," the Associated Press news agency quotes him as saying.

"It has nothing to do, as far as I'm concerned, with anything between the Bush administration and the Chavez administration."

Talks are under way to agree a similar deal to provide discounted heating oil from Venezuela to low-income residents in New York's Bronx district.

See the turbulent relationship between Venezuela and the US

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