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Home >> World
UPDATED: 13:36, June 04, 2006
Russian arms shipment arrives in Venezuela
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Venezuela on Saturday said it had received an arms shipment from Russia "for the defense of the country" amid its tensions with the United States.

According to Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, the country received the shipment of 30,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 25 million rounds of ammunition.

"They are weapons for the defense of the country," Rangel told local media at the Puerto Cabello naval base, 130 km northwest of Caracas.

Soldiers would be armed with the Russian weapons in replacement of the "obsolete equipment," Rangel was quoted as saying. The army currently uses Belgian-designed FAL rifles.

The shipment was part of the deals signed last year that included 54 million U.S. dollars worth of Russian rifles and ammunition, as well as 15 helicopters for 200 million dollars.

Last month, an adviser to President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela was considering to buy about two dozen Russian jet fighters to replace its fleet of F-16s because the United States had refused to sell the country replacement parts.

Venezuelan pilots had already traveled to Russia for testing out Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighters as possible replacements for the 21 U.S. F-16s, the presidential advisor Alberto Muller said, adding Venezuela was considering a purchase of 24 planes.

The arms deals between Caracas and Moscow came amid Venezuela's tensions with the United States.

Chavez, elected in 1998, blasted Washington's involvement in a failed coup against him in 2002, but Washington denied the charge. Early this year, Caracas expelled a U.S. Embassy official charged with spying, while Washington threw out a Venezuelan official in return.

Despite the years of rift, Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, is still one of the top suppliers for U.S. oil consumption.

Source: Xinhua

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