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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:46, May 20, 2005
Doubts over Venezuela's arms deal cleared: US official
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The information provided by Venezuela's defense minister on the purchase of 100,000 Russian- made assault rifles has cleared Washington's doubts over the arms deal, US ambassador to Caracas said Thursday.

"Now we already know the amount of and model of the assault rifles, and other details we did not know before," Ambassador William Brownfield said.

Venezuela signed a contract with Russia on Tuesday to acquire 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles, a deal that drew strong opposition from the United States.

According to Defense Minister Garcia Carneiro who signed the deal with Russia, the first batch of 28,000 rifles will arrive in October, while the second shipment of 35,000 rifles is due in December, and the rest will reach Venezuela next March.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said the weapons would replace outdated FAL rifles in the army.

The United States had expressed doubts over the arms deal, warning about possibilities that the weapons could end up in the hands of the Colombian rebels or other subversive forces of the continent.

Brownfield also cast doubts on Venezuela's disposal plans for the outdated FAL rifles, saying Caracas did not specify the use of the replaced weapons.

"What are they going to be used for? Where will they be placed? " questioned the ambassador, who reiterated that Washington respects the right of the Venezuelan armed forces to modernize their equipment.

However, the Venezuelan government rejected such indications and accused Washington of interfering in the internal affairs of the country.

Source: Xinhua

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