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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Chavez defends Russia arms deals
Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet
Russia plans to deliver Su-30s fighter jets to Venezuela
The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has said his visit to Russia to sign a series of arms deals does not mean he is going to attack anyone.

Mr Chavez said his aim was to replace the ageing weaponry used by Venezuela's armed forces.

He is expected to complete deals worth around $1bn (542m) to buy Russian fighter jets and helicopters on Thursday in Moscow.

The US has tried to persuade Russia not to supply weapons to Venezuela.

"I am not an aggressor and have come not for weapons with which to fight against all and everyone," Mr Chavez was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency during his visit to the Russian city of Izhevsk.

Hugo Chavez inspects a Kalashnikov assault rifle at Izhmash factory in Izhevsk

"It's simply that our army's weapons are already old and worn out and we want to exchange them for newer more reliable ones," he said.

In Izhevsk, Mr Chavez visited the factory which manufactures Kalashnikov assault (AK) rifles and was expected to meet its inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Russia plans to deliver 30 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets and 30 helicopters to Venezuela.

Venezuela has already ordered 100,000 AK-103s and wants to set up factories to produce Kalashnikovs under licence.

'Lobbying tour'

The US has voiced concerns about this, having banned US manufacturers entering such deals with Caracas.

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said "the armed purchases planned by Venezuela exceeded its defensive needs and are not helpful in terms of regional stability."

Mr Chavez is visiting several countries, lobbying for a Venezuelan seat on the UN Security Council.

On Monday he signed a series of co-operation agreements in Belarus.

After Russia, he will visit Qatar, Iran, Vietnam and Mali.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear President Chavez at a news briefing in Russia



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