Russia to help Venezuela develop nuclear energy
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER Associated Press Writer
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to help start a nuclear energy program in Venezuela and said Moscow is willing to participate in a socialist trade bloc in Latin America led by President Hugo Chavez.
Medvedev used his visit to Venezuela—the first by a Russian president—to extend Moscow's reach into Latin America and deepen trade and military ties. Chavez denied trying to provoke the United States, but he welcomed Russia's growing presence in Latin America as a reflection of declining U.S. influence.
Accords signed Wednesday included one pledging cooperation in nuclear energy for peaceful uses. Russia also agreed to work with Venezuela in oil projects and building ships.
"We are ready to teach students in nuclear physics and nuclear engineering," he said through an interpreter. He said the help would include "research and development" and "looking for uranium in the territory of Venezuela."
The Venezuelan leader—one of the world's most strident U.S. critics—thanked Medvedev for helping to create a "multi-polar" world with declining U.S. influence.
The military show of force is widely seen as a demonstration of Kremlin anger over the U.S. decision to send warships to deliver aid to Georgia after its conflict with Russia, and over U.S. plans for a European missile-defense system.
Medvedev was to finish his four-nation Latin American tour in Cuba.