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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 13:50 GMT
Chavez in India for energy talks
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (centre) with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) and Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam.
President Chavez will sign a number of agreements during the visit
Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez has said he hopes to strike a long term oil-supply deal with India.

He was speaking at the start of a four-day state visit, where he will sign energy and cooperation agreements.

"We want to supply petroleum in a permanent way, the same as we do with the US," Mr Chavez said during a forum with Indian business leaders.

India's oil needs have been increasing in recent years amid an economic boom and it is seeking new suppliers.

Increasing demand

India, the third largest crude oil consumer in Asia, imports 70% of its oil, most of it from the Middle East.

In January, it hosted a conference with Middle East oil producers at which ways of securing supplies to the country and other Asian powers such as China were discussed.

But to reduce its exposure to possible Middle East volatility, India is looking to diversify its oil supplies. It is also seeking to boost local production.

Meanwhile, Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil producer is trying to diversify its exports and reduce its dependence on the US market.

India hosted an oil conference with Middle East countries.
A conference with Middle East nations took place in January

It has recently signed energy deals with China and strengthened cooperation with the South American economies, particularly Brazil and Argentina.

Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is already advising India's state-run oil company on extraction of oil in the country's northwestern state of Rajasthan.

US warning

On his arrival in India, Mr Chavez, who will also sign biotechnology and rail industry agreements during his visit, repeated a threat to halt oil supplies to the US.

Relations between Venezuela and the US have deteriorated since leftist Mr Chavez became leader.

The Venezuelan president has accused the US of trying to kill him, something Washington has dismissed as "ridiculous and untrue".

"We're not going to avoid this supply of oil unless the US government gets a little bit crazy and tries to hurt us," Mr Chavez said.

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