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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
Castro arrives in Venezuela

The Cuban president, Fidel Castro, has arrived in Venezuela for a five-day tour -- his first visit to the oil-producing nation in forty years.

During his stay, Mr Castro will sign an agreement with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, under which Venezuela will provide cheap oil to help alleviate Cuba's chronic energy shortage.

The deal is similar to that signed last week between Venezuela and ten Central American and Caribbean nations.

Correspondents say the oil agreements form part of President Chavez's aim to expand Venezuela's regional influence.

But while Mr Chavez is keen to be a close ally of the Cuban leader, opposition politicians have denounced Cuba's human rights's record and called for protests.

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