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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Chavez supports Syria against US
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gives speech in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 29 August
Hugo Chavez wants to show solidarity with Syria
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has pledged to stand by Syria in opposition to what he said was US "imperialist aggression" in the Middle East.

He said he and Syria would strive to build a world free of US domination.

Mr Chavez is visiting Syria to show solidarity with it and other Arab nations in their opposition to Israel and the US.

He is on a tour of several countries that is viewed as a bid for support for a UN Security Council seat.

Mr Chavez was given the red-carpet treatment as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad welcomed him at the presidential palace on a hill overlooking the capital, Damascus, reports the BBC's Michael Voss. Thousands of Syrians lined the streets of the capital to welcome him.

We have the same political vision and we will resist together the American imperialist aggression
Hugo Chavez

"We have decided to be free. We want to co-operate to build a new world where states' and people's self-determination are respected," Mr Chavez said after meeting President Assad.

"Imperialism's concern is to control the world, but we will not let them despite the pressure and aggression," he said.

Mr Assad said he welcomed Mr Chavez's support for Syria and the Palestinians.

"The stance of President Chavez is known and we heard it today: support for Syria in regaining its occupied territories, and support for the Palestinian people in achieving their national rights and the establishment an independent state, in addition to the desire to help Lebanon in the post-war period."

Mr Chavez had earlier told reporters that his country and Syria shared a common goal.

"We have the same political vision and we will resist together the American imperialist aggression."

His latest remarks come after a report from the Associated Press news agency earlier in the week that millions of dollars in US aid were flowing to secret programmes that support Venezuelan opposition groups.

Israel critic

In recent weeks, Mr Chavez has visited about a dozen countries, including Iran and Malaysia.

Venezuela is looking for Latin America's next non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, a move the US is hoping to block, our correspondent says.

Mr Chavez was a fierce critic of Israel's offensive in Lebanon and has found common ground with Syria.

Mr Chavez withdrew his ambassador to Israel shortly after its invasion of southern Lebanon.

During his Syrian visit, Mr Chavez signed energy deals with the Syrian government.

On Tuesday in Malaysia, the Venezuelan president met a group of local businessmen and urged them to invest in Venezuela's economy.

From Syria, Mr Chavez is to travel to Angola.




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